What To Do When Your Garmin Watch Has Trouble Charging

I have a Garmin Forerunner 245, and I love it. I like it a lot better than my old Fitbit Charge 3, and the Garmin is definitely a better watch for running.

There’s only one thing that annoys me about the Garmin watch. Sometimes, it has trouble charging.

If you have a Garmin Forerunner, you’ve probably experienced something similar. You come back from a run, you plug in your watch, and you walk away. You come back later and realize the watch wasn’t charging. What gives!

Keep reading for an in depth discussion of this issue. But if you’re in a hurry one of two things will usually fix the problem: a) clean the charging port with some rubbing alcohol and/or b) grab one of these charging pucks from Amazon.

Why Does Your Garmin Watch Have Trouble Charging

There seem to be a couple reasons why your Garmin watch might have trouble charging.

First, as with any electronic device, the charging cable might get damaged.

The original cable that came with my Garmin Forerunner 245 seemed a little light weight and flimsy. A charging cable is made up of multiple thin cables inside the rubber sheath, and if these are bent repeatedly they can eventually break. This is why I always try to charge my phone while it’s laying flat on a desk – so I can avoid bending the cable at a sharp angle. Unfortunately, the way the charging cable plugs into the back of a Garmin watch makes this difficult, so it’s more likely that the cable will get bent. Inevitably, this can lead to problems with the cable.

Note: I have a Garmin Forerunner 245, but the connector is the same on most recent Garmin watches – including Forerunners (45, 55, 245, 255, 745, 935, 945, and 955), Fenix (5, 6, and 7), Instinct, Venu, Vivoactive (3 and 4), and others.

Over time, the connector on the charging cable also wear out. When a cable is brand new, you can feel a pretty firm click when you plug in the watch. As you continuously plug in the charger, something on the connector wears away. In the end, this can lead to a loose connection – and a loose connection might mean unreliable charging.

Another potential problem area is the charging port itself. There are four pins on the back of your Garmin watch, and these pins plug into the charging cable.

Garmins are definitely a wonder of engineering. Somehow these charging pins can remain exposed to sweat and water and keep functioning. But the fact that they are waterproof doesn’t mean that issues can’t crop up with these charging ports.

One potential issue is that the pins on the watch get dirty. If you wear your watch long enough, plenty of sweat and grime will gunk up on those charging pins. This in turn can lead to a bad connection between the watch and the charger – and no charging activity.

A related issue is that if you immediately take off your watch after a run and plug it in, the charging port might still be damp. In the short term, this moisture could cause problems with connecting the charger. And in the long term, the moisture plus the electric current from the charger can create some corrosion on the charging pins. This in turn reinforces the previously problem – that the charging port on the watch or on the cable are dirty.

So when your Garmin watch has trouble charging, it usually boils down to one of two things – the charging cable is worn out or the charging pins are dirty.

So What Can You Do When Your Garmin Watch Won’t Charge?

If your Garmin watch stops charging or does so intermittently, here’s a few things you can do to help fix the problem.

First, try and rule out any issues with dirt and corrosion.

If you read the instruction manual (you did read that, right?), Garmin suggests that you clean your watch with damp cloth and a mild detergent solution. You can use something like rubbing alcohol for this. If you suspect the charging port is particularly dirty, you could also use a toothbrush to get in there and scrub it clean.

Once it’s clean, try and avoid creating new problems. This means a) rinsing off your watch and b) not plugging it in to charge until it’s dry. My old routine used to be to plug it in immediately after my run while I shower, and that led to some problems. To try and eliminate charging issues, my first step is now to rinse the back of my watch off in the sink to remove any sweat. I let it dry for 15 to 20 minutes, and then I plug it in. This has definitely helped with my charging issues.

Besides corrosion, the other major issue to deal with is the charging cable.

You’ll know this is likely a problem if you plug in the watch and have to fiddle with the cable to get it to charge. I new my original cable was starting to go bad because I’d plug it in, and I’d have to put the watch down in the exact right position to get it to charge. Sometimes it would start charging, and then when I put it down it would stop. Chances are, the cable was broken inside or the connector was worn down and wasn’t ftitting tight enough.

Charging cable and puck for a Garmin watch.

While I was looking for a replacement charger, I came across these charging pucks on Amazon. They are amazing.

I love the way the puck sits flat and the watch sits on top of it. There’s no more bending of the cord, which is one way it can eventually break. I can also easily see the face of the watch to know that it’s charging. With the original charger, the watch is usually upside down. This makes it hard to see the watch face while it’s plugged in.

And you will love the way it connects. There’s such a satisfying snap when you plug in the watch. I haven’t had my charging puck for too long, but it definitely feels so much more firmly connected than the original charger.

The Bottom Line on Charging Your Garmin Watch

If you’ve had issues with your charging your Garmin watch in the past, the bottom line is there are some simple solutions to most problems.

First, make sure that your watch is clean and avoid charging it when it’s wet. If you used to charge your watch immediately after running like I did, change up your routine to make sure that it has time to try

Second, pick up a charging puck or a more solid charging cable. This will save you the trouble of having to fiddle with the cable every time you plug it in.

Note: I’m discussing my experience with a Garmin Forerunner 245, but the charger is the same on most recent Garmin watches – including Forerunners (45, 55, 245, 255, 745, 935, 945, and 955), Fenix (5, 6, and 7), Instinct, Venu, Vivoactive (3 and 4), and others.

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3 thoughts on “What To Do When Your Garmin Watch Has Trouble Charging”

  1. I have a Vivomove 3s. Often when I try to charge it, I get a triangle on the screen. It doesn’t charge when it is there. I called customer support about it and they didn’t know what I was talking about. Any ideas?

    • I had the same problem. I just brushed the pins on the watch and charging cable (unplugged) with a toothbrush. It started charging again after that.


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