Fix for Garmin Fenix Not Turning On

This fix for a non-responsive Garmin Fenix 3 that I’m about to explain may not work for all situations but it seems to have helped me.

Fenix 3 Setup

Fenix 3 Setup

The other day, my Garmin Fenix 3 that I love just decided not to turn on. I went to start a workout, saw the screen flash on and off a few times and then it just died. Nothing I did would get it to turn on and I tried everything I know. I’m quite familiar with the watch itself and with Garmin products having owned quite a few over the years so I know all of the usual troubleshooting steps. I’ve written a number of helpful posts about the Garmin Fenix 3 in the past, including a very popular Garmin Fenix set up guide. I therefore tried the various

  • Soft Reset
  • Hard Reset
  • Factory Reset options

I also tried charging it overnight just in case the battery was flat – it was on around 75% charge when it happened but I thought I’d charge it just to be sure. I was hoping to try connecting the watch to my computer as a USB mass storage device so that I could remove files from it just in case a corrupt file was causing the problem, but there was just no life in it at all so it wasn’t recognised by the computer.

I did have a sneaking suspicion though that there was a problem with the Back/Lap button on the watch. It didn’t have it’s usual positive feel to it so maybe it was jammed in. Having the Back/Lap button pressed in may just explain why there was no life in it.

Garmin Support – Gone Downhill

By now I’d tried contacting Garmin Support but had no joy. I’ve used them quite a bit in the past as my Garmin 910XT had recurring barometric altimeter issues. Because of this I’d had my Garmin 910XT replaced at least 4 times so have always been quite impressed with Garmin Support. In the end though I discovered a really easy fix for the Barometric Altimeter issue on the 910XT – All that was required was to give it a bit of a scrub with soapy water. Thankfully, since figuring this out, the fix had kept my 910XT working flawlessly ever since and had helped countless other people too. No doubt it had saved Garmin a fair amount in returns and replacements as well. Although quite why Garmin themselves never worked this out and recommended it as a fix themselves I’ll never know.

My 910XT had been sat in a box in the cupboard for a few years but with my Fenix 3 not working it came out of retirement and was being used for my workouts. It was still working and the fact that I now had a method for fixing the altimeter meant that I hadn’t contacted Garmin Support for 4 or 5 years. Unfortunately it seems as though they aren’t as good as they used to be. I’ve sent 3 messages via their support form online, I’ve sent emails direct to them and I’ve even sent direct messages to their Twitter account about the issue but haven’t had a reply from any of them. I’ve tried returning the Fenix 3 using the Garmin online returns system but it won’t let me do so. It just gives me a message saying that it can’t be returned for repair or replacement and that I have to contact support. I’ve tried that, but they won’t reply.

Another easy Fix for my Garmin Fenix

All is not lost though, whilst talking to Anna about it, and mentioning the possibly jammed button I was wondering if it was worth me taking it apart to see if I could fix it myself. It was out of warranty, it wasn’t working so I couldn’t make it much worse and I was running out of options. Anna then suggested giving it a good scrub with soapy water just like I used to with the 910XT. OK, it wasn’t a case of a clogged barometric altimeter this time but maybe a good clean would free up the stuck button.

Would you believe it, it seems to have worked. I scrubbed it in hot soapy water with a toothbrush, paying particular care to the area around the buttons and it seems to have worked. The Back/Lap button still isn’t quite as positive a click as it used to be so it might get stuck again, but when I pressed the On/Off (Light) button it powered up and seems to be working fine.

So there you have it, yet again, a good clean maybe all that is needed if you have a Garmin Fenix series watch that won’t turn on. It may be all that’s needed for any Garmin product it would seem.

17 Responses

  1. Avatar forComment Author Mum x says:

    You do know this post will start lots of requests from fellow garmin users lol

  2. Avatar forComment Author Nicolas says:

    It didn’t work for me =(

  3. Avatar forComment Author Nadir says:

    This was crazy! My fenix f5 wasn’t turning on.

    I thought maybe out of charge! Tried everything but didn’t work. And then just as you suggested. Soapy water, tooth brush and voila. Turned on.

    Thanks for the assist. But truly truly weird.

    • Avatar forComment Author Alan Cole says:

      Glad to be of assistance… It’s not that weird though. If dirt and grime means that one of the buttons is stuck then giving it a good clean frees the button and allows it to turn on again. The fix didn’t last forever for me unfortunately and is started happening more and more frequently so I ended up paying for a replacement from Garmin. Hope it fixes yours for good though.


  4. Avatar forComment Author Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the assist it’s work for my garmin fenix 3..

  5. Avatar forComment Author T G says:

    Thankyou very much – my Garmin Fenix 3 works again! Much appreciated, especially as it’s only 3 months out of warranty.

  6. Avatar forComment Author Guillaume says:

    Same problem try to brush it but without sucess the garmin logo flashes and stop it is not recognized by my computer…

  7. Avatar forComment Author Anonymous says:

    Not worked for me unfortunately – still seeking a solution….

  8. Avatar forComment Author Fenix6 says:

    HI. for one week I couldn’t start the watch. did everything what sugested Garmin support, nothing helped. Few minutes ago I have read yours post, I put the watch in to hot soap watter, brushed it and wolia IT UTRNED ON ! 😀 THanks a lot!!

    • Avatar forComment Author Alan Cole says:

      Excellent, I don’t know why Garmin Support still aren’t suggesting this as a first step in trouble-shooting. It’s such an easy win if it works and I’m sure it would save them lots of returns as well.


  9. Avatar forComment Author SJ says:

    Mate, you have literally just saved me a lot of money. This was my last resort after trying everything and it bloody worked! Thank you!

  10. Avatar forComment Author George Anastas says:

    Great tip.
    My Fenix 3 wake up again

  11. Avatar forComment Author Anonymous says:

    Still having issues, cleaned it. It goes on but still having problems

  12. Avatar forComment Author juan pablo says:

    hi. Sadly I have a very different outcome. the watch battery started to behave very different a couple of months ago, each charge lasting less. once upon a time… a full charge used to last a month (just as a watch, no activities)… and suddenly, everything changed. just right after Fenix6 launched. “it is a curious thing that I started to have battery problems just after the sun-charged-very-much-expensive new model was released. and of course, after a couple of software updates. one day, just did not work anymore. not even turning on. I called garmin support service and they told me to call to my country support service because they would give me more options (????? I suppose this mean afenix3 works differently in the US??????)

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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