So, get this. Two days ago, I’m heading to Bridgewater to do that shopping. Using my Garmin 660 GPS unit in the Highlander for the first time, I couldn’t get the GPS to acquire a signal. I tried for 15 mins in multiple locations, but no luck. Luckily, I had handwritten directions, and used them instead. Later that night, I’m researching Garmin support pages and other forums to find out why my GPS unit can’t acquire a signal.
On the Garmin site, it tells owners to move away from tall buildings, reset the device, etc. On other pages I googled, I find mentions of, among other topics, heated windshields. Remembering that this new car has a heated windshield, I curiously click the link, and what do I learn?
People are wondering if others are having issues with their Garmin 200 series units unable to acquire signals. Additional research turns up an interesting fact: heated windshields are made of some sort of conductive metal, which has the unfortunate deleterious side effect of blocking signals from GPS satellites. Did we just buy a car without the GPS navigation option, and my long-awaited-for GPS unit won’t work inside it?
Luckily, with some testing, I found a suitable workaround. Suggestions posted online have recommended the purchase of an external GPS antenna. However, that requires installing it on the roof, and snaking the cable through the door. I’m not doing that with my new car. I have found out that if I hold the Garmin facing the driver side window and allow it to lock onto a decent amount of satellites, I can then mount it on the windshield normally, and it will continue to stay locked on the rest of the trip. Every time I turn on the unit, however, I will have to repeat this ritual if I want the unit to find the GPS satellites.
It’s not the greatest, but it’s a decent workaround. Weird, huh? I bet you have never considered, imagined, or heard of this problem. I never even considered, and you don’t ever hear of it. From what I read, it affects some Toyotas, Volvos, and other cars with heated windshields.