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DriveSmart 65 with Alexa issues

I just a got this. I have been a long time Garmin user, owned several over the years. I recently bought a new car that has Android Auto built in, 3 days of that and I'm done with it. It stinks! Back to Garmin. First step I upgraded the firmware and maps to the latest version.

The first issue has me stumped, it was shipped with 100% dead battery. So I used the USB cable included and plugged it into my 5 port USB power brick from Anker which can deliver plenty of amps. It powered on no issue but refused to charge it. I finally tried charging it in the car and that works fine, but from a USB port it won't charge. I tried 3 different USB power bricks, all will power it up but not charge.

Alexa is not happy. I installed the app on my Pixel XL running Android 10. No issues. I configured Alexa to send all output to the Garmin, I don't have my car set to Bluetooth for my audio, the car has an internal MP3 player using a USB thumb drive that I prefer. (This way no draining the battery on the phone).

Alexa refuses to say anything on the Garmin speaker, even though the settings clearly say it's going to the Garmin device. It's insisting on sending to the phone and then to the car. If I am in the house it sends the audio to the phone.


  • t923347 533 Points
    Plugging the unit directly into a USB port on your computer may well solve your charging issue.
  • privet01 231 Points
    edited June 2020
    Just got the DS 65? Return it for a refund before it's too late. Of course Garmin will replace it under warranty but that takes a little time too.

    Garmin might not intend for them to charge from the USB. My DS 61 doesn't charge significantly from my computer if at all.

    You might call Garmin Support and ask them. Then let us know.

    In the manual it says that it may not charge with some AC chargers and they recommend Garmins AC adapter. So probably a good indication that it needs a much higher amperage charger than most USB outlets in computers or cars typically supply.
  • OldGeezer 60 Points
    edited June 2020
    I found this on the Garmin support site.

    "Garmin DriveSmart 65 Not Charging When Powered Off

    Your Garmin DriveSmart 65 may not charge when the device is completely powered off while connected to power.

    To verify that your device's battery does receive a charge, you may keep the device powered on while connected to the car charger or press the power button once briefly to put it into standby/sleep mode while connected to the car charger. As long as the device is not powered off completely, it will still receive a charge."

    I found this regarding the DriveSmart 50, it may apply.

    "Use your device with the included vehicle power cable for several hours before attempting to connect to the computer or using the device on battery power. This will charge the battery to an acceptable level for the computer/Garmin Express to recognize your device.

    Or, plug your device into a 2A or greater A/C charger (not included with the device) and allow the device to fully charge for a minimum of 6 hours before plugging the device into a computer with a USB cable."

    I also found this regarding the Drivesmart 50 that may apply.

    “USB Charging of Automotive Devices

    The provided vehicle power cable must be used in the vehicle in order for the device to operate and charge the battery simultaneously. The device cannot be charged by a USB cable in the vehicle.

    When connected to a computer or vehicle via USB cable, your device may present a message stating "The attached cable cannot currently charge your device." This behavior is normal. While the device does receive enough power from the computer or vehicle to remain powered on and to operate, it does not receive enough power for the battery level to increase.”

    So it looks like the GPS should be charged up to some minimum level before you can try charging from a USB port. It also looks like the GPS is expected to operate with the USB cable, but not simultaneously operate and increase the battery charge.

    First, try charging the GPS with your vehicle power cable as described above regarding the DriveSmart 50. Check to see if the power icon indicates it is accepting the charge.

    Second, try charging the GPS on a USB port for about 1.5 to 2 hours in the standby/sleep mode. Then unplug it, turn it on and see if the power icon in the upper right corner indicates that it has been accepting the charge. Also, expect that charging the GPS from a USB port will probably be slower than using the 12-volt car charger. If it still doesn't charge by Monday morning, call Garmin like privet01 suggested.

    I used a third method to charge a new Garmin DriveSmart 50 and later a DriveSmart 55 - I cheated. I plugged the vehicle power cable into a DC power source at home and took a nap. When I checked a few hours later, the GPS was fully charged.
  • gquiring 81 Points
    Since the battery was 100% dead when it arrived that might explain why it would not take a charge from the USB. I never tried charging it from my computer, I use these USB power stations that have multiple ports to charge a lot of USB devices and never had an issue. They deliver a lot more amps than a computer can.

    I have to charge it up full somehow so I can continue trying to get Alexa to output to the Garmin. It still sends audio back to the phone and then if the phone is connected to the car it ends up on the car speakers.
  • OldGeezer 60 Points
    edited June 2020
    They intentionally ship the GPS with a dead battery for safety. If you're going out driving today, plug in the vehicle power cable and set the GPS in the standby (not completely off) mode. After 1/2 hour unplug the GPS, turn it on and see if the power icon indicates it has been accepting a charge (and if it stays on using the battery). If it has then just plug it back in and keep using it. Not much point in not using the power cord while in your car, and it will eventually get a full charge. You could also try to complete the charge using your USB power station. If using the USB power station, leave the GPS in the standby mode or fully off. On the other hand, if the power icon looks like it did not accept the charge, and if the GPS will not stay on using the battery, then its time to call Garmin and ask for a replacement.

    Sorry, can't help you with the Alexa issue.
  • privet01 231 Points
    Computer USB amperage is only required to be .5 amps for USB v1.0 and v2.0. USB 3.0 is .9 amps to meet the standard.

    Probably not a great choice for using it for charging Garmin's that try to guess what they are connected to based on voltages and amperages and therefore might not do what you want if outside what Garmin thinks you should be doing.
  • gquiring 81 Points
    The USB charger I was using is 4amps. But I need to get past the charging discussion and get this Alexa issue worked out.
  • gquiring 81 Points
    I made a video explaining my Alexa issue:

  • OldGeezer 60 Points
    Which app did you install on your phone? Garmin Speak or Garmin Drive? You should remove Garmin Speak and use Garmin Drive.

    From the Garmin Drive app, select Settings > Garmin Speak > Audio. Look for "Alexa and Media". This "Sets whether to play media and Alexa audio through the Garmin Speak device. If you are connected to your vehicle using Bluetooth® wireless technology or your smartphone's headphone jack, you should select Vehicle. If you are using the Garmin Speak speaker or the audio output jack on the Garmin Speak power cable plug, you should select Garmin Device."

    Also from the Garmin Dive app. "If you want to use the internal Garmin DriveSmart device speaker, verify each of these items: From your Garmin DriveSmart device, select Volume > Bluetooth Audio Setup, and verify Garmin Device is selected for each audio type."

    Is your phone paired with the car audio system for phone calls, and is this overriding your setting for Alexa output to go to the Garmin?
  • gquiring 81 Points
    I have Garmin Drive installed. The app says set to Garmin device.
  • gquiring 81 Points
    If you leave the car out of the equation it still does not work the way it should. Alexa is never using the Garmin speaker for any commands.

    But yes my phone is paired to the car because I use the voice commands to make phone calls. I even told my Android phone to not accept media voice from the Garmin device in the bluetooth settings. But Garmin via Alexa is still trying to send the voice to the phone.
  • OldGeezer 60 Points
    Sorry, I didn't see your video until after I posted my 4:22 entry.

    I think the problem is in settings on your phone. Check the Garmin Drive settings - From your Garmin DriveSmart device, select Volume > Bluetooth Audio Setup, and verify Garmin Device is selected for each audio type.

    Two more ideas (both long shots) on your phone settings.

    First, in the phone settings, select Apps, then select Drive. Under the App settings, look under Notifications and Permissions for any setting options that may need to be selected.

    Second, in the phone settings, select Connections, then Bluetooth. Look for your Garmin under Paired devices and press the gear icon. On this page check which options are enabled under Use for.
  • gquiring 81 Points
    I'm charging my phone up, this may not work anyways, the Garmin Drive app even when the Garmin GPS is off is killing my phone battery. It sucks up the juice for no good reason.

    I will make a 2nd video showing the Voice settings on the phone, there are no options so set the device. All the Garmin Drive app does is bring you to the Bluetooth settings in Android. I have all options off to not allow anything to use the phone for that bluetooth connection.
  • gquiring 81 Points
    I went through every settings/sequence in the Garmin Drive app and nothing will send the audio to the Garmin speaker. I removed the old video and added a 2nd piece showing the Drive app.

  • OldGeezer 60 Points
    A couple more low probability suggestions.

    1. Try a hard reset. Sometimes after accepting a software update when a GPS will not perform correctly a factory reset will correct the problem. Go to Settings > Device > Reset. Select Delete Data and Reset Settings. When the GPS is turned back on you’ll need to repair the device with your phone and go through all of your setting selections again.

    2. The Garmin support site listed a troubleshooting FAQ with the Garmin Speak with Amazon Alexa that Audio Only Playing Through Phone When Paired with the Garmin Speak or Garmin Speak Plus. You’re not using this device or the Garmin Speak app, and the information in the FAQ only applies to phones using Android 8.0 - still might be worth trying.

    “If the Garmin Speak or the Garmin Speak Plus only plays audio through the phone, rather than the device itself, you may need to toggle Bluetooth media playback settings on your Android phone. If not sure how to do that, consult your phone's owners' manual.

    To toggle media playback settings on your phone:

    Go to Bluetooth Settings on your phone
    Touch More Settings
    Touch the gear icon next to Garmin Speak
    Touch the Media Audio button and then touch the Media Audio button again to toggle the setting
    The audio should now be working on the device. If not, reboot your phone and try again.”

    3. This probably doesn’t apply since your phone is an Android, and your video looked like you didn’t have the GPS plugged in to a USB cable. But I’ll include it anyway – it might give you an idea of something else to try. If nothing else it answers one of your questions – yes, it is expected to be able to send audio through the device’s speaker.

    “No Audio from Garmin Automotive Device when Using an iPhone Connected to a USB Cable or Docking Station

    While using your Garmin device with an iPhone, if the iPhone is connected to a USB cable or dock for charging purposes, you may find that you are no longer receiving audio through the Garmin device's internal speakers. Audio may be sent through your vehicle's stereo system if the iPhone is connected to a USB port on an in-dash system, or audio may not play at all. On the Garmin DriveSmart 65 with Amazon Alexa, you may receive the message Audio is currently playing to the vehicle stereo using your phone's USB connection.

    This can occur because the iPhone is attempting to send phone audio through the connected USB cable or dock instead of through the Garmin device.”

  • gquiring 81 Points
    OMG this is too funny. It works. I set allow media on bluetooth to phone and now it outputs on Garmin!
  • OldGeezer 60 Points
    Now that the Alexa works, how does the charging problem look?
  • OldGeezer 60 Points
    If you have the time (and patience) you still might want to contact Garmin about this. Let them know that "Audio Only Playing Through Phone" is an issue that is not limited to Android 8.0 or to the Garmin Speak with Amazon Alexa device. That way they can increase the FAQs on their support site for the DriveSmart 65 with Alexa device. Good luck!
  • gquiring 81 Points
    It charges on my USB 5 port charger. For some reason when it's totally dead it requires the car plug to get it going. Not that it's a big issue the battery drains very quickly on this Garmin, I doubt you could get an hour of on screen use with it like the manual says. But once I have it installed in the car on the 12v adapter it won't make a difference. In the house for testing, it's a PITA, the Garmin battery kept dying.

    What I don't like is Alexa is not really baked into the Garmin, it's nothing more than an interface to the smartphone which is doing all the real work. My issue is the phone battery, I don't plug my phone into the car, it stays on my person when I drive. This Garmin Drive app/Alexa is a battery eater. Even when you are not connected to the Garmin that Drive app is sucking down the phone battery for no good reason.

    Another issue is the Drive app does not auto launch when you turn on the Garmin! I own two cars, a Toyota Highlander and Kia Sedona which both have apps. Once I start the engine the app for that car auto-launches on my phone. Why can't the Garmin Drive app do the same?

  • OldGeezer 60 Points
    On occasion I have had the same experience with the GarminDrive app not launching when the GPS was turned on. Usually happened after accepting an update. I uninstalled and then reinstalled the app, paired it with the GPS and it worked until another app update.

    For the phone battery. If you need to use the GPS for several hours straight and think it would drain the battery too low, I would plug the phone into the car's power. A cord is a lot cheaper than a new phone, and you don't need to use it unless you see the battery is draining to a point you're not comfortable with. My DriveSmart 55 the Garmin Drive app doesn't run down the battery unless the GPS is on - must be the Alexa in your GPS.
  • gquiring 81 Points
    With Alexa I was planning on leaving the Garmin on full time, not navigating, just being able to have an assistant in car for questions. I really don't want to plug the phone in all the time, I end up leaving it in the car.
  • OldGeezer 60 Points
    Good luck!
  • gquiring 81 Points
    I took a drive today, Alexa decided to go back to Bluetooth for the audio. I toggled the switch on the phone and it brought it back and then the Garmin said it lost the bluetooth connection and that was the end, it stayed on the bluetooth. It would not output to the Garmin speaker.

    It's poorly written software, my car is not losing connection with my phone but Garmin is. Very disappointed.
  • OldGeezer 60 Points
    Was Garmin support able to recommend a solution?
    You could try: Do a hard reset of the GPS, taking it back to the factory settings. Uninstall the Garmin Drive app from the phone; "forget"/remove the Blue tooth pairing in your phone settings; and then reinstall the Garmin Drive and pair the GPS to the Garmin Drive app on your phone.
    No guarantee that will fix the problem. From what I have read, Alexa uses/prefers the Bluetooth connection to the vehicle sound system by default.
  • gquiring 81 Points
    I didn't try Garmin support. Do you know if they are in India or the USA? I won't bother calling them if they are overseas, that kind of support is always useless and frustrating.

  • Boyd 2043 Points
    I've had quite a lot of Garmin devices, going back 2004. Happily, I have never needed to call support but they get generally good reviews here and on other sites. I believe they are based in the US, but (sorry) I don't think you're being fair. You are complaining about problems with their software yet you aren't willing to give them a chance to correct the issue.

    For a problem like this, I would submit a written request on their site instead of waiting to speak to a representative. That will give you a written record of your interaction. It's quick and easy - you have already spent much more time here than it would have taken.

    Phone support is better for something like a warranty issue where you might want to speak to a supervisor if the representative isn't giving you the answers you expect. The other advantage of phone support is that they can ask you to connect your device to your computer and then access it directly to fix problems. Unless you think this is needed, I would submit a written request through their site.
  • gquiring 81 Points
    I contacted support via email, I explained the problem in detail and sent them my video. This was their response:

  • OldGeezer 60 Points
    edited June 2020
    In the Owner’s Manual, read the section on “Connecting to the Stereo Using a Bluetooth Connection”.

    Note what it says about the Garmin Drive pairing process, Select “Yes” when the app asks whether you currently use Bluetooth technology to connect your smartphone to your vehicle. Also note that by default the device sends audio to your stereo.

    Now, uninstall and reinstall the Garmin Drive app. This time during the initial Garmin Drive app pairing process, lie to the machine and select “No” when the app asks whether you currently use Bluetooth technology to connect your smartphone to your vehicle. Maybe this way the app will ignore your phone’s connection to the vehicle and only try to send Alexa audio to the GPS internal speaker like you want.

    If that doesn’t work, I'm out of ideas. Call Garmin Support. If they are busy you can select the option of leaving your phone number for a callback. Every time I have done this they have called me from Kansas and have been helpful. As @Boyd pointed out, they can remotely access your GPS through your computer to directly address problems.
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