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Memory battery in Garmin GPS III



  • I did it to see if I would get a response from anyone. Which I did. If you look at how long I have waited for a response and the question I answered for a fellow user for an answer if I told him where I bought my battery it is no wonder I am frustrated. Is this forum here for people to help or just to help with the little things? If it is too much trouble to help, then why have a forum at all?
  • And, again, with that attitude, let's see if you get your desired response. Here or otherwise. :wink:
  • New to the forum - came here due to the message that my GPS III+ has a low memory battery. Thanks to all that have posted such good detail on what is needed to try and do the repair . . . not sure if my fingers are small enough, eyes good enough, and long lost talent with the s-gun that good.

    I upgraded my GPS long ago but use this one in places I'd rather not take the new unit (be it on the kayak or when working with the kids I teach). I hate the idea of giving it up over a stupid little battery. Yes Garmin is not too high on my list right now. Not because of stopping support - I expect that over the years but for a design that will make a product unusable that could have been avoided with a simple battery clip. Just because a new product is faster, cleaner, or better looking does not equal the product will do all jobs better.

    Thanks again - if I do try the rescue I'll post the results

  • awesome thread.. my gps3 sat in my truck for 3 years..kind of forgot about it. Broke it out last week as we are about to move across country. only to realize it wouldnt turn on.. opened the battery compartment and unfortunately one of the batterys burst and acid crust was all over the place.. cleaned it out real good with a lemon juice/water mixture. Tried new batteries and still didnt work. having bought my garmin 3 back in the late 90s to tell where i was when over seas in the navy, it made sense to me that there was probably a dead internal battery.
    I found this thread and everything was clear.. I mail ordered a new battery.. soldered it in and .. .... .... DAMN nothing... i was about to give up.. when i tried I decided to check the AA battery connections one more time for corrosion. It turned out that the end connector that sealed the battery compartment had a hard time making a strong connection because of the strength of the spring combined with some corrosion.. scratching up everything and cleaned it one more time.. and TADA! gps3 is back online and I am soo glad i bought this thing many many moons ago.
    Thank you guys on the forum for keeping my hopes up with great insight and technical knowledge on this awesome device.
  • Outaspace 0 Points
    A word of support for the post from kjo on Nov. 1, 2008. My GPS III+, which I fire up about once a year, suddenly wouldn't turn on using AA cells. But it worked fine with the car cord. Opening it up I found that solder joints around the memory battery and the AA power connection into the circuit board showed evidence of overheating. I cleaned up and touched up the solder joints and the unit now will boot on AA cells. But I get the low memory battery warning. The post from kjo would explain this and experiences of some others well. The memory battery gets old and its internal resistance drops to a point that it creates an over-current situation with the AA circuit. In my case, I hypothesize that it melted a circuit board connection, disabling the AA battery supply. For others, it may be the reason that their batteries overheated and leaked. I will be replacing the memory battery with the exact equivalent (rechargeable) from Mouser, and hope all will be fine.

    I had to remove the lead of the 470uF capacitor from near the block connector in order to touch up the solder joints. Because of the tight component packing in the area, it was not possible to tell exactly where it came from. If someone can tell me (e.g., that it just goes to the AA battery pad of the connector) that would be great. But I am assuming that it is an unessential filter capacitor, so will leave disconnected otherwise.

    Finally, why so much time spent on an old GPS III+? Part nostalgia. Years ago I used this unit to navigate through some very rural, rutted roads of Africa and Latin America. It was the first unit that had a capacity (and software) for maps of the entire globe. It was only highway level of detail, but that was better than nothing. Also, is there yet any other unit that has capability and availability for maps anywhere on the planet? That's why it gets dragged back into service every year or so. I don't know where I can go to download to a GPS maps (however crude) of a remote and isolated country (but maybe I just haven't looked enough recently).
  • Boyd 2027 Points
    Pretty much any current Garmin model can use the same maps that you used. Aside from Garmin's own maps, there are many third party user-contributed maps available today offering far more detail than your old unit could support with its tiny amount of memory. Visit these sites for starters:

    There is also software for making your own Garmin maps now:

    And the newest models support scanned paper maps: and aerial imagery worldwide:

    So your model is a real classic and probably has some life left in it, but in terms of mapping I think there have been a lot of advances in recent years.
  • Outaspace 0 Points
    Many thanks Boyd! I suspected that there were better alternatives out there, but your pointers will give me the start that I needed.

    The memory battery is on its way, but finishing the repair now will maybe just be for nostalgia's sake.

    Thanks again!
  • jack4291 0 Points
    Just completed the replacement of the 3V Panasonic VL1220 internal battery on my Garmin GPS III. The information on this thread was extremely helpful as to where to get the battery and the replacement concerns. I DID NOT unsolder the battery but carefully peeled back the tabs (breaking the spot welding) from the old battery that left two "very long" soldering tabs still attached to the circuit board. Then I put the battery "upside down" between the tab, leaving its soldering tabs extended upwards. All this being sure the + - orientation of the battery was correct. I then bent over the soldering tabs on the battery over the tabs from the board. I the soldered the respective tabs together. A couple things, 1) there was space between the battery and the tabs so the heat from the soldering iron was not directly on the battery and 2) it took up no more space then with the old battery. AND the GPS III works quite fine now.

    A note: from another forum, it was stated that the battery will run down and occasionally attaching it to an external power supply is not sufficient to keep the battery charged. So for me, I will periodically put batteries in the GPS to trickle charge the lithium battery and maybe this new internal battery will also last 12 years!
  • pilotart 0 Points
    Interesting thread!

    I have a GPS V (bought for $500 in 2002) that I use for Boating now with Garmin BlueCharts, so I expect to need this within a few years....

    What symptoms are seen when the Memory Battery begins to go?
  • sviking 141 Points
    What symptoms are seen when the Memory Battery begins to go?
    All your settings, preferences, waypoints, etc probably get dumped... Another post alluded to a "low internal battery" warning message, too.
  • I sent Garmin the following email on the fix I made on the following product.

    Garmin GPS III Plus no longer supported. I replaced the battery with a CR1220 and a battery holder from Radio Shack #270-008 to take care of error " memory battery low". Solder two wires from board to battery holder. When replacing the battery make sure of the + and - ends. Should put this on your WEB Support page. Total Cost $6.47

    Garmin reply was as following

    Thank you for contacting Garmin International and I would be happy to help you with this.
    As stated on our website, we will be unable to assist you in your attempts to personally repair your device.
    All parts within our devices are not available for individual purchase from GARMIN. The schematics and diagrams are proprietary information.

    We will not provide advice or condone any repair attempts made by anyone other than a Garmin professional.

    With Best Regards,
    Luke R

    Product Support Specialist

    Garmin International



    913-440-8280 (fax) Att: Luke R, Associate #5822
    I think they want you to deep 6 it and buy a new on so they can make more money off the customer. :twisted:
  • tsull 0 Points
    :cry: Garmin GPS 3 + - No power up or screen display
    I replaced the internal battery (mouser #658-VL1220-1VC) with no change.
    anyone have any other checks I can do before I trash it?
    I took detailed pics of inside if anyone needs them e-mail me
  • hello...I wonder if you could replace my GPSIII battery..I do not feel confident on do in it by myself..also..if you agree where can I ship it and how much you will charge...thank you very much...!!! :lol:
  • Just an FYI I have a GPS iii plus and the internal battery died. I took it to Batteries Plus and they replace and re soldered it onto the board for $5.25.
    Very cool.
  • Has anyone seen an issue where you push the red power button on the GPS III+, the Garmin logo screen starts to come up, then it powers right back off? It started doing this a month ago, so I ordered a new internal battery for it and installed it last night. I left it connected to the cig lighter adapter connected to a 12v power supply, then connected to the cig lighter port in my car for approximately an hour this morning. It's still doing the same thing. Any ideas?
  • Have you found anyone willing to do the repair......I was hoping someone would like to do this as a side business to help us all and make some side money... I have two that I need batterys changed on......Allen
  • pilotart, the gpsv doesn't have an internal bat like the 3+.
  • LPP 0 Points
    Actually, there IS a memory coin cell in Garmin GPS V receiver. It isn't really a rechargeable battery, but an electric double layer capacitor.

    The original reference is Elna Dynacap, capacity 0.22F voltage 3.3V dimensions 6.8mm x 1.8/2.1mm code DCK 614 (DCK-3R3E224U-E).

    I purchased a replacement last tuesday on Digikey ( for a couple of Dollars plus shipment (almost twenty Dollars though!). The picture on Digikey page is slightly different, as the item is EXACTLY the same as the original soldered on my Garmin unit.

    With the new coin cell the GPS is again able to receive satellites as when it was brand new.

    I recommend the operation, as it takes ten minutes and it brings back in operation an excellent GPS.

    Best regards.
  • LLP, thank you . I stand corrected. Good to know if mine starts failing to lock on to sats.
  • Has anyone seen an issue where you push the red power button on the GPS III+, the Garmin logo screen starts to come up, then it powers right back off? It started doing this a month ago, so I ordered a new internal battery for it and installed it last night. I left it connected to the cig lighter adapter connected to a 12v power supply, then connected to the cig lighter port in my car for approximately an hour this morning. It's still doing the same thing. Any ideas?
    I don't know whether you still have a problem, but it happened to me once: actually, everything was ok with the internal battery and charging, but I pressed rocker keypad unintentionally (after pressing the red button) and it darkened the screen completelly. The winning solution was simple: after pressing the red button, press the left end of rocker keypad (holding the device vertical) and the screen should become bright.
  • However to get over your problem of identifying the correct way round of the Panasonic LV1220 nominal 3 volt Rechargeable Lithium Battery used in the Garmin GPS III Plus.
    I have passed trough all the posts regarding internal battery issue and still I am not sure about the type. KellyJoe mentioned that the battery for GPS III+ is not the same as for GPS III. Than Kjo mentioned that he put rechargeable in his GPS III, and you said that rechargeable should be used for GPS III+. May be that I am slow a little bit but would you please reconfirm the type and exact name of the internal memeory battery for GPS III+, before I start searching. Tks in advance!
  • I discovered this forum while looking for others with the same "memory battery" error problem I was having. My GPS unit is probably 10 years old or more but amazingly still worked other than the error issue. Since then, I have owned 2 "car GPS" units, one Magellan, and one Tom-Tom and neither lasted 1 YEAR! Anyway, I took the advice on this forum and ordered a new Panasonic battery from Mouser, it arrived today, and I de-soldered the old battery leads, soldered the new one in, and eureka! It works great again! I am have some background with electronics, but this was the most delicate thing I have soldered so far. I figured if it worked, excellent! If it "died on the table", well, it wasn't really functional anymore anyhow. The only problem I have is there is a long bar across the screen that was not there before. I disconnected the power leads, and reconnected them to see if there was some sort of fault but it did not help. It makes some areas of the screen hard to read, but not impossible. Not a real big deal for my uses though. Hey? What it's still more than 10 years old and was a $400. investment that was resurrected for less than $13. including shipping. I had mothballed the unit years ago when the battery error began, but I will be traveling in the Andes next month and I wanted a way to read elevations on mountains so I gave it a shot. Glad I did! Now I can use my GPS III again!

    Mike McGuire, New Jersey
  • Takeda 30 Points
    I don't know if it will help anybody, but I took some photos of the internal battery location in a GPSIII:


  • Hi, thank you for this photo.
    Could you just confirm if is a GPS III or a GPS III plus.
    Thank you
  • Takeda 30 Points
    Hi, thank you for this photo.
    Could you just confirm if is a GPS III or a GPS III plus.
    Thank you

    It is a GPSIII Plus
  • Thank you. So the VL1220 doesn't fit with GPSIII Pilot ?
  • Takeda 30 Points
    Thank you. So the VL1220 doesn't fit with GPSIII Pilot ?
    Pilot? I'm not familiar with GPSIII Pilot
  • sviking 141 Points
    Thank you. So the VL1220 doesn't fit with GPSIII Pilot ?

    Pilot? I'm not familiar with GPSIII Pilot
    Aviation handheld unit
  • Happy New YEar Every one

    I had a question please regarding the Garmin III plus, on the previous picture , I'd like to know the name of that IC 8 pin which is located just in front of the 470UF Cap , because I changed it and it is not working and I lost the Original one and looking for replacement , I think its DC to DC conv.

    Also Can I know , what is the second point of the 470UF Cap is connected to?

  • I also opened mine up but don't even see anything that resembles a battery/. Also have had mine since new (8 years) and no longer works. Can anyone tell me if there is a service available to get this fixed? I also paid over $300 and never expected to have to throw it away just for the price of a battery.

    Ken :cry:
  • Would like more info on how to recognize and change out internal battery in my Garmin GPS III.

    I would gladly drop it off for you to do for me for a fee. Let me know.
    Ken Weeks
    Crestview, FL
  • :cry:

    Garmin GPS III

    Followed the forum advise and had Battery Plus install a new battery. Failed to
    turn on w/new AA batteries installed. Funny the GPS worked intermittently earlier. That's why I checked this forum. Was positive installing new internal battery would solve my problem. Guess I'm now going to have to chuck this GPS that I paid almost $400. for.

    Does anyone else have any suggestions??

    Makes me want to steer clear of Garmin products in the future. Can't believe they won't stand by this product.

    Ken W
    Crestview, FL
  • Boyd 2027 Points
    Makes me want to steer clear of Garmin products in the future. Can't believe they won't stand by this product.
    I can appreciate the frustration, but I don't think you're being completely fair here. The GPS-III was introduced in 1999. A GPS is a computer and 14 years is like an eternity in that world. Will Dell or Apple will support a 14 year old computer? Does Microsoft support Windows 98? Or will Sony support the VCR you bought in 1999? :)
  • I have a Beta-Max player from the late eighties, and I am unable to find video for it anywhere!!!

  • Boyd 2027 Points
    Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP next year; it was introduced in 2001. And they are also ending support for Office 2003 next year.
  • Garmin 3 Plus - Memory battery low problem - easy fix for me by recharging

    This is a great site and there is some excellent info on how to address the memory battery problem on the Garmin 3 units. Many thanks to all for the valuable advice.

    I was about to order a Panasonic VL1220-VCN battery to sort out my unit's memory battery low problem. Thought I should try keeping the unit on for a long period of time to see if the battery would be able to take charge - seeing that it is rechargeable. I hooked it up to external power and left the GPS switched on for about 36 hours. I then disconnected the external power, switched the unit off and then back on again and after around 5 minutes it picked up satellites and all is back to normal. I'm really happy about this because the GPS really meets my needs so well.

    I am not sure how long the battery will retain it's charge but I hope it hangs on long enough for me to dust off my very rusty soldering skills.
  • jimlp12 0 Points
    Hello Everyone:
    I have a Garmin GPS III Personal Navigator from 1997-1999. I bought it off Amazon used, it's original selling price (from the label) was $349.95, I got the original box and all the contents. From Amazon in 2014-2015 I gave like $35.00-$40.00 for it, free shipping. A week or so later I got a chance to look at it, it wouldn't even turn on. I checked the batteries and oh God what a mess..! The previous owner had left the batteries in it and they were all corroded, there was White Battery acid every where. Right away I thought yeah, ya get what ya pay for, junk..! I was p-o-ed but I took a chance and cleaned it up, the whole battery compartment (4-AA batteries). I installed 4 new batteries closed the compartment cover, locked it and turned it on. It fired up, showed the software version etc., and a message came up stating the memory had low voltage, after a few hours, it worked fine. I read the Manual, took some notes and it was awesome. I removed the new batteries and packed it away for a while. I just recently took it out again to go Hiking in some new area's, so I wanted to get it ready. Installed new batteries 4-AA type, turned it on and again got the low memory voltage warning again. It's still on as of this minute and it's just after 9:00 pm MST.
    The 10 year life span Lithium battery (Internal memory battery) is rechargeable. It gets it's power source from the 4-AA batteries in the battery compartment. Just because it has discharged due to no power source, does not mean it's crapped the bed...! As with all Electronic's, especially battery Operated ones, it's good practice to remove the batteries if it's going to be put up for a while, like the Winter time, take it back out in the Spring. Otherwise, the batteries may leak and leave a nasty battery acid mess in the battery compartment. The charging circuit is somewhat small, so it may take a few hours for the Lithium to reach full charge, especially since it's been without any power for a few months. To charge it faster, if you look in the back of the Owners Manual & Reference (page 77) at the Power Specifications, you'll see where it can handle Input from 10-32 VDC External source. I won't get into all the griping and complaining here on the forum because that's already been done by prior post's, and so be it.
    Much of the info about replacing the battery is really helpful and I wish that one successful person who has replaced the battery and still uses his GPS III regularly would make a full detailed write up about the Battery source's, the procedure, it's precaution's, entire details and what have you for all of us out here that may, sooner or later, need to replace his/her internal battery. A lot of the links posted here are not working, so they're no help to anyone. I see that there's over 2 full pages of comments, both good and bad and before its over, there'll be more..... I bought mine used because I couldn't afford to spend $349.95+ on a new one with all the bells and whistles....! Money does not grow on trees..... My Family needed the $ worse than I did..
    My email is: if you care to send details on /internal battery replacement for the Garmin GPS III........ thanks in advance...! =)
  • jimlp12 0 Points
    Update: I waited as my Garmin GPS III went through 2-sets Of 4-AA batteries. All functions seemed to work as well except for the Date, which never got set by the Satellite data received. I removed the screws and the back, disconnected the Flat ribbon cable to the LCD Screen and the pc board connector allowing ample space to separate the two halves. At this point I found the Memory Backup Battery in its Vertical position next to the PC Board Connector. I un-soldered the two pins from the PC Board and removed the battery. with my digital Volt meter, I measured the two leads, it read 2.3 vdc for a 3.0 vdc Battery, after the GPS III went through 2-sets of batteries. I came to the conclusion the battery had expired, and i ordered 2 more replacements Panasonic VL1220/!VL from Allied at $4.94 each, plus shipping. Some places wanted $14.95 for 1-battery.
    The Batteries arrived today and I measured one with my digital volt meter, it read 3.01 vdc..! I installed it on the PC Board w/positive terminal facing the PC Board Connector, as it was when I removed it...! I assembled the back and the 6 screws and tightened them down. Turn on the GPS III and it fired right up. All previous data lost, which was nothing really, just tying to get the date set. A fresh set of 4 batteries were installed the battery compartment, the unit is still on as of 7:45 PM (MST) it's been on for about 5 hours straight. It's functioning as before, seems to be doing what it's supposed to, yet the DATE has not been as yet...?
    Does anyone here recall which Satellite sets the date..? Or how long it takes for the date to be set...? Right now it's sitting on 21-SEPT-98.....! A couple of years ago when I got the GPS III and got the battery compartment cleaned out of all the battery acid, w/new set of AA batteries, it did set the date to x-x-2015... but I can't remember how long it took....? I had between 5 and 9 Satellites on Screen for over 5 hours.... the manual says you need at least 4, so I should be all set there... Also would anyone here know of a reason why the Satellites could not set the Date on the GPS III...? Any and all info would be greatly appreciated.....
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