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Garmin Recalls 1.25M 'Fire Risk' Satnavs

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the hot-new-battery-tech dept.

Businesses 54

Barence writes "Garmin is recalling 1.25 million of its nüvi satnavs after batteries overheated. According to Garmin, the issue only affects devices containing batteries manufactured within a set date range by a third-party supplier and that have a specific printed circuit board design. 'It appears that the interaction of these factors can, in rare circumstances, increase the possibility of overheating, which may lead to a fire hazard,' the company said in a statement. 'Although there have been no injuries or significant property damage caused by this issue, Garmin is taking this action out of an abundance of caution.' Perhaps Garmin should also issue a software update that diverts drivers to their nearest fire station?"

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54 comments

Imagining what the guide says (2, Funny)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398410)

(in guide voice) ...Take a left turn in 500ft. ...Take a right turn in 2.5 miles. ...Pull- Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow. I am on fire, please shut me off.

Re:Imagining what the guide says (3, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398758)

(in guide voice) ...Take a left turn in 500ft. ...Take a right turn in 2.5 miles. ...Pull- Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow. I am on fire, please shut me off.>/quote>

WHYYYYYYYY did they program me to feel pain?

Re:Imagining what the guide says (3, Funny)

tool462 (677306) | more than 3 years ago | (#33399474)

New turn by turn directions:
Destination close.
You're getting warmer...
warmer...
super-hot!
You're on fire!

Lamest joke ever. (3, Insightful)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398474)

Perhaps Garmin should also issue a software update that diverts drivers to their nearest fire station?

Lamest joke ever.

Re:Lamest joke ever. (3, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398516)

I know. Everyone knows that if your car catches on fire you stop drop and roll it into the ditch.

Re:Lamest joke ever. (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33400140)

Especially since Garmin charges an arm and a leg and you have to jump through hoops to get the software updated after the first 30 days.

But since this also affects the FM and MSN 7xx models, they could potentially have alerted at least some the drivers through the GPS itself.

Re:Lamest joke ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33401714)

Especially since Garmin charges an arm and a leg and you have to jump through hoops to get the software updated after the first 30 days.

Ask, and ye shall receive. [thepiratebay.org]

So (1)

KillaGouge (973562) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398506)

Where there any instances of anybody getting hurt by these at risk batteries, or is this a proactive recall. The article didn't say.

Re:So (1)

KillaGouge (973562) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398566)

It appears they did. Good on Garmin for being Proactive.

Re:So (2, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398910)

'Although there have been no injuries or significant property damage caused by this issue, Garmin is taking this action out of an abundance of caution.'

Its right there in the article and the summary.

Mine was recalled. Its on its way back already. I'm hoping they just send a replacement unit, as satellite lock time was starting to increase beyond reason. Various forums indicate this is due to some small antenna connection that develops over time.

Re:So (2, Informative)

CompMD (522020) | more than 3 years ago | (#33399020)

What model did you have? Some 200 series units have the satellite lock time issue fixed with a GPS firmware update that you can do yourself with a tool available from their website.

is it? (1)

Dr.D.IS.GREAT (1249946) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398520)

overheating ??? batteries??? fat file system? lawsuits? patent pending?

who knows...

Lost (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398532)

So, there I was, driving my VW wagon merrily along, when my GPS suddenly exploded. I found myself on an island with underground bunkers and polar bears. How do I get back home when I can't even find a store to buy a new GPS from?

Re:Lost (2, Funny)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398584)

Head south.

Kudos (3, Interesting)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398564)

Kudos to Garmin for proactively recalling their own unit before anybody dies or they have a growing public relations nightmare on their hands. It's much better stewardship of their brand and care for their customers than we ever see from car companies or medical device manufacturers.

Of course, it's also disheartening that the appropriate minimum response to discovering a serious flaw in one's product now feels extraordinary and laudable when viewed in the context of other major American manufacturer's current behavior.

Re:Kudos (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33400128)

Time for a car analogy

A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

That's from the Fight Club manual.

there's no safety in batteries these days (2, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398570)

I used to shoot a lot of panasonic cameras; and about a year or two ago, pany changed their 3rd party battery story so that new models use chipped batteries (pulling a sony, so to speak) and this locks out most 3rd party batteries.

their reason: safety. they claim that 3rd party batteries are less safe than the oem's.

then we see essentially ALL companies who make battery power (li-ion mostly) devices have this or that battery recall. its not if, but when. I'm not sure a single vendor has escaped.

they claim their own choice of batteries is safer but each recall BY the vendor whittles this trust away bit by bit.

Re:there's no safety in batteries these days (2, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398630)

The batteries are all made in the same factory in China. How the fuck are the day-shift batteries any different than the night-shift batteries?

Yeah, I know, slaves don't take shifts but you get the idea.

Re:there's no safety in batteries these days (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 3 years ago | (#33400048)

I used to shoot a lot of panasonic cameras;

Sort of an expensive choice of targets don't you think?

Re:there's no safety in batteries these days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33406682)

I used to shoot a lot of panasonic cameras; and about a year or two ago, pany changed their 3rd party battery story so that new models use chipped batteries (pulling a sony, so to speak) and this locks out most 3rd party batteries.

their reason: safety. they claim that 3rd party batteries are less safe than the oem's.

then we see essentially ALL companies who make battery power (li-ion mostly) devices have this or that battery recall. its not if, but when. I'm not sure a single vendor has escaped.

they claim their own choice of batteries is safer but each recall BY the vendor whittles this trust away bit by bit.

Reminds me of my days in my old computer repair job. I wish more computer manufacturers did this chip thing with their chargers, because the #1 cause of "my computer doesn't turn on" (black screen not turning on, not the other kinds) was a dead or wildly out of spec third party charger.

Luckily, my new job is supporting Macs.

Re:there's no safety in batteries these days (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33411096)

each recall BY the vendor whittles this trust away bit by bit.

You beg the question of whether there was ever any significant degree of trust in the issue, which could then be whittled away. I know that I've always considered this sort of manoeuvre by manufacturers as an indication of naked seeking of commercial benefit. Do you live in some wonderful land where anyone trusts hardware manufacturers (or indeed any other businessmen) to act in a way that is not directed towards their own unadulterated commercial benefit?

Incredible that such naiveté can survive gestation in this day and age.

How far we've come (2, Funny)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398574)

1960s: Carry a fire extinguisher in your car, in case the electrical goes berserk.
2010s: Carry a fire extinguisher in your car, in case the electrical goes berserk.

Re:How far we've come (2, Funny)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398648)

I carry a fire extinguisher with me at all times. It's a great conversation starter.

Biking, SCUBA diving, at the gym, etc.

Re:How far we've come (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398984)

I carry a fire extinguisher with me at all times. It's a great conversation starter.

Biking, SCUBA diving, at the gym, etc.


SCUBA diving? Do you get many fires on coral reefs and old shipwrecks?

Re:How far we've come (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#33399014)

Wait a minute... I just started a conversation. WOW! It works! That's some fire extinguisher!

Re:How far we've come (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#33399168)

Yeah, he carries a lump of cesium with him wherever he goes, too. Too bad the fire extinguisher is just rated for ABC.

Re:How far we've come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33398782)

You and your fallacies! Berzerk was released in 1980!

Re:How far we've come (3, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398816)

I was rather wondering what happens if you put a Garmin inside a Ford Pinto.

Re:How far we've come (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33402000)

Refried beans? ... I'll let myself out now.

Re:How far we've come (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33402636)

You stop and get the fuck out of the car when it catches on fire, unlike in a Toyota.

Who the bleep calls them satnays?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33398650)

Do they call PCs percoms?

Re:Who the bleep calls them satnays?? (1)

Chelmet (1273754) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398844)

I can tell you right off that everyone in britain calls them satnavs.

As does, like, garmin themselves [garmin.com]

Battery and/or construction? (3, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398674)

According to the Dutch site tweakers.net ( http://tweakers.net/nieuws/69349/garmin-roept-nuvi-navigatiesystemen-terug.html [tweakers.net] ), the supplier of the battery will take on the cost of replacing the battery. So it seems there's at least an issue with that battery and who knows if other devices may also be affected.

It also mentions, however, that Garmin will be adding a spacer between the battery and the PCB.

So, speculation time... 1. the battery's casing may not have been up to spec and under some circumstances can lead to a conductive area that is -not- one of terminals being exposed and 2. the battery's proximity to - possibly direct contact with - the PCB actually made this into an issue simply because a soldered pin may end up touching the exposed area and shorting the battery or otherwise causing a too high draw bypassing the safety systems usually in place. Wouldn't be the first time.. but, again, speculation.

Re:Battery and/or construction? (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 3 years ago | (#33399004)

I think its more likely that the batteries are just not very good and operating out of spec. Take apart a nuvi 7xx sometime and you'll see what I mean.

Is your Garmin affected? (2, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398686)

Garmin has provided a site to check if yours is one of the affected units: https://my.garmin.com/rma/recallLanding.faces [garmin.com] .

Re:Is your Garmin affected? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398768)

If you've registered your unit on "My Garmin" site earlier (e.g. to download map updates), then it will tell you straight away if your unit is recalled as soon as you log in at the front page. At least it just did that for me.

Re:Is your Garmin affected? (-1, Offtopic)

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warning fail (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398738)

They say:

issue only affects devices .... manufactured within a set date range... third-party supplier... specific printed circuit board design... interaction of these factors...in rare circumstances,.. increase the possibility of overheating....may lead to a fire hazard... no injuries or significant property damage caused....

We remember:

GARMIN KIT IS DANGEROUS! OVER A MILLION RECALLS! MAY CATCH FIRE!

Diverts drivers to their nearest fire station (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33398820)

There was a smart gas meter company that provided a firmware update for a shorting smart meter that directed users to the closest mortician. That is the kind of forward thinking that gets my business.

My Garmin already blew up (1)

MikeDawg (721537) | more than 3 years ago | (#33398854)

So, my Garmin battery already blew up, and I already replaced it. The battery expanded, causing the entire case of the Nuvi to show "stress marks" on it. I pulled the battery out, and did the very childish thing, and cut a hole in it with a knife, and was sprayed with a noxious fume.

Re:My Garmin already blew up (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33402644)

I'm guessing that's not the first time you've tried something like that.

OLD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33399010)

/., what's up? This story is 2 days old. Sure its better than the story from a book 8 years ago, but really?

Why the fuck these proprietary li batteries anyway (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33399616)

Garmin Geko circa 2003, ran 20 hours on two non-exploding AAA cells. When they go flat, swap in another pair, and charge the flat ones up when you get home.

Garmin Nuvi 205W circa 2010, runs 4-5 hours on internal proprietary lithium cell, non-removable. When it goes flat, you are hosed and can't use the unit until you can find a place to charge it. And that's assuming it didn't explode.

Lithium batteries are just a fucking scam. I buy AA or AAA powered devices (digicams, portable audio, etc) when I can possibly help it, and use Sanyo Eneloop NiMH cells which have no self-discharge problems (the usual excuse for lithium). The slight size/weight penalty is more than worth it to avoid the damn proprietary battery and charger and explosion hassle, and there is also a huge cost savings.

Re:Why the fuck these proprietary li batteries any (1)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 3 years ago | (#33400830)

my mom's nuvi205 came with a standard car charger that charges it over standard miniUSB for which you can purchase Hand Crank, [bestofferbuy.com] Solar, [google.com] and Battery [google.com] chargers. So even if you're not in a car with your GPS, you're nowhere near hosed.

The Nuvi 205W is not on the explosion list either.

I love Lithium Ion batteries. My last digital camera died in a year because the fucking door hinge broke. I see it as a major advantage of the Nintendo DS. Yeah, you can't pop in new batteries, but I can charge from nearly any power source (I have a USB cord). Not to mention NiMH cells are fairly expensive, and alkalines are more expensive in the long run.

If each device gave you a set of NiMH cells and had an internal charger, then I'd like NiMHs more, and I use NiMH cells a lot (my guitars all have a 9V one in 'em) already.

Re:Why the fuck these proprietary li batteries any (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33403080)

Wow, "mom" & "hand crank" in the same sentence. Gotta be slashdot to find a posting like that (just need "basement" to make a trifecta).

Re:Why the fuck these proprietary li batteries any (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33408760)

If each device gave you a set of NiMH cells and had an internal charger, then I'd like NiMHs more, and I use NiMH cells a lot (my guitars all have a 9V one in 'em) already.

If you are careful you can often find devices which take them. I prefer to spec everything with AA batteries because AA NiMH has the best price:performance (in my opinion, anyway) of any readily available battery. And of course there is the obvious advantage of being able to fall back to planet-killing batteries. I managed to get a 12V quick charger at Ross, which plugs into my harbor freight solar kit very nicely, thank you. I have a deep cycle in a battery box with a small replacement charge controller in it, and I put banana plug/screw down terminals on the outside for connecting stuff.

Dealextreme will sell you a halfway decent 2000mAH Lithium battery in a solar charger for about $13, so for all this USB stuff that's not a bad way to go. I found a 1980s solar panel with a 2xAA battery charger, but it's 200mA peak, that's a bit tedious. I once paid $100 for a 2xAAA NiMH solar charger with better output and USB, but I gave that one away as a regift. It charges really fast, but what takes AAA?

Re:Why the fuck these proprietary li batteries any (1)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 3 years ago | (#33408790)

I have a NiMH charger. I just like internal chargers because I don't trust battery hinge doors. Stupid cheap plastic breaks a lot. I also like the good old fashioned style doors you see on old Gameboys, wiimotes, and remote controls, even if you lost the bit of plastic that held the batteries in, it was just a bit of plastic, not a complex springy thing.

I won't buy a camera that takes AA cells, not because I don't like AA cells, but because I was burned by a camera that broke in a year because the stupid hinge door wore out.

Come on, life saving device! (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33400600)

I can't believe Garmin is going to take out the emergency ignition source - this could be really handy when you get lost in the woods and need a quick campfire. Just because a few whiners had it activate somewhat early!

Now I have to continue to carry the flint.

charging in breaks (1)

mike-seo (1874258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33401458)

I always charge my mobile batteries in breaks and never in one go, this way the chance of overheating is avoided.

There is one guy that I hope DOESN'T get this news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33401590)

The punk that smashed my side window and stole mine.

Is there a Dottore in the house? (1)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 3 years ago | (#33404906)

"It appears that the interaction of these factors..."

The interactions of these factors? What the hell. Didn't someone actually engineer this thing? It's not like this is some external problem over which Garmen had no control.

Re:Is there a Dottore in the house? (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 3 years ago | (#33409104)

"It's not like this is some external problem over which Garmen had no control."

Garmin can set specifications for the batteries and engineer their devices according to those specs. If a battery manufacturer delivers batteries out of spec but claims they are in spec, what do you expect Garmin to do about it? Its exactly on external problem, note that the battery manufacturer is paying for replacements.

Re:Is there a Dottore in the house? (1)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 3 years ago | (#33420196)

I would expect them to perform vendor quality acceptance testing. It's that nasty QA part of the engineering equation that tends to get ignored.

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