GPS units are now common place and you’ll see people everyday using them to help guide them around the country, but should we trust them? Like any technology then they have their flaws that’s for sure, and if you are totally dependent on them then what will you do when they go wrong? Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your GPS:

Update your maps: This has to be the most obvious thing to do to keep your GPS in tiptop condition, yet so many people either neglect to do it or choose not to. Your GPS uses maps to navigate you to your destination, so if they are old then it can lead you astray down roads that no longer exist and to gas stations that have moved etc. Make sure you update your maps every 2 weeks or you might find it lets you down just when you really need it.

Take backup maps: Having a GPS is supposed to solve all your map worries, but don’t forget it is an electrical device and that means things can go wrong with it. There could be a short circuit or the batteries could decide to stop taking a charge, or you could drop it or have it stolen, and then you are lost without a clue where to go. Instead pop some paper maps into the trunk and if the worst situation happens and your GPS does die on you, then at least you can find your way to where you need to go.

Plan your route on maps for a long journey: This kind of links in with the point above about taking maps with you. If you are going on a long journey then there is more chance of your GPS calculating the route wrong and either sending you the long way to reach somewhere, or sending you to totally the wrong place. If you spend 5 minutes beforehand checking the route you need to take on your paper maps, then you will know if it tries to take you an odd way to your destination and you can continue the way you know you should be going and force it to recalculate for you.

Read reviews before you buy: There can be a huge difference in the abilities and reliability of different units and different companies. By seeking out reviews online and/or opinions off your friends about units they own, then you can make sure you weed out any that are hard to use or plan routes badly, before you waste any money on them or buy one and it gets you lost.

With those tips above then you should be much better prepared if things do go wrong, and you won’t end up in the middle of nowhere with no idea where to go. GPS units are still in their infancy and I think there are going to be a lot of breakthroughs in the future to make them more reliable and more useful, but even then it would be unwise to fully rely on something which can break if you drop it or spill your drink on it.

If you are sick of the suction mounts for your GPS which can make your car a target for thieves, then consider getting a Garmin portable friction mount which sits on the dash instead.