/ Motoring, Technology

Brand new car, but an out of date sat-nav?

Built-in sat nav

When buying a new car with a built-in sat nav, you’d probably expect the navigation maps to be up-to-date. But we’ve found that you might have to shell out for updates, straight away…

You’ve bought a brand new car, and opted for the built-in satellite navigation add-on. You drive off the forecourt and come across a roundabout that bafflingly doesn’t appear on your sat nav’s map.

What’s going on? It could be that your sat nav’s maps aren’t up to date.

Updating maps on built-in sat navs

We know that it’s important to update your sat nav maps, but our research in 2012 found that the cost of doing so for a built-in sat nav can stretch in to hundreds of pounds each time. We found wild variations between the prices paid from dealership to dealership too.

In a recent survey we found that a massive 68% of people surveyed had never updated their built-in sat nav maps, mainly due to the related cost.

But when paying out for a brand new car and a built-in sat nav as an added extra, you would expect your brand new device to be as up to date as possible, right?

We heard from one of our members who found the exact opposite to be true. In June 2015 Mrs Bartlett bought a brand new Citroën C4 Grande Picasso that came with built-in sat nav. On the way home from the garage they used a new bypass, but according to their sat nav, they were driving through fields.

Mrs Bartlett contacted the garage they purchased the car from, who contacted Citroën on their behalf. They were informed that they would have to pay for any and all updates on their new car, even though it had been sent out of the factory with out-of-date maps – at a cost of £69, the same price as one of our Best Buy sat nav models.

Luckily, as a gesture of goodwill, Mrs Bartlett’s £69 did manage to get a refund, after threatening to share her story on social media channels.

The cost of updates

Many new standalone devices from big brands, such as Garmin and TomTom, include free map updates for the lifetime of the device. But if you’re stuck with an older model or a built-in sat nav, you could be faced with a bill every time you want to update it.

Have you experienced a similar situation when buying a new car? Would you rather pay extra for a standalone device with free map updates, or fork out for a built-in sat nav and update it regularly?Do you think built-in sat navs be automatically updated before purchase?


I was aware of the high cost of map updates when I bought my car so I told the salesman that I did not want a built-in sat nav. The maps can be updated free on my standalone unit. Motoring is expensive enough without paying a fortune for a built-in sat nav and having costly updates.

I’ve got on fine with a 12 year old Tomtom in my old car without updates. Followed signs when new road appeared. The downside is finding an address in a new area.

My new car has a built-in satnav that is updated automatically 4 times a year. It has a great on-screen display but also gives basic data on the instrument panel and, much more useful and safe, route data in a head-up display in the windscreen, including pictures of motorway road exits as they are needed. I would be miffed, though, if considering the cost I’d have to also pay for updates.

when I retired Jan 2011 Bought a new Audi A6 S line special edition it came with a built in sat nav but as I intended keeping the for a long time (it is now over 5 years old but only 21,000 miles on the clock) I purchased and upgraded version at an extra cost of £425 the car itself after £3000 cost £32.500.
anyway not only was the sat nav not up to date you can only enter the first five digits of the post code it then offers you a list of streets and places such hotels etc. how ever if as is very often the case the street or place you want is not listed you have had it. Audi tell me that that is the German system and there is nothing they can do about it. I have had to buy a stand alone sat nav with free life time map update and safety camera data base.

Shan says:
2 August 2016

Our Citroen would only allow the first 5 digits, but the dealer was able to re-se the sat nav to accept all 7, so it might be worth asking them. Good Luck

my ford focus (2016 model with myford touch sync 2) only allows 5 digits

As far as I can see, supplying a Sat Nav which doesn’t contain accurate maps renders the device not fit for purpose. Updating these maps ought to be done automatically, each time the car is serviced at least. Interestingly, if the satnav maps are out of date but the car is still under warranty I would imagine the car owner would have a legitimate case against the manufacturer. What do the legal beagles in WOL think?

John says:
29 July 2016

I bought a brand new Ford with built in SatNav in 2008. As in all new Fords at that time the supplied unit was made by Bosch including the software. The maps as supplied covered all of the UK plus Major Roads in Europe. I used the SatNav in the UK and France/Spain for 5 years with no major drawbacks despite the software being out of date but then decided it was time to bite the bullet and shell out for an update. Then I discovered that Ford wanted well over £100 for the UK version and the same for any other European country version! So I resorted to Google/EBay and eventually found a Dutch company offering TomTom software that covered all of UK plus full coverage of all Euro countries and suitable for my Ford/Bosch unit. You must have all your present Hardware/Software details to ensure a perfect match. Having done this I bought a CD update that worked perfectly and cost under £100 for the complete package inc. p&p. I grant that this is still expensive compared to stand alone units with guaranteed lifetime software updates, but is still a lot cheaper than buying it from our ‘Enry!

It would be helpful if all sat navs showed the date of the maps so that it is easy to check if they are up to date, especially when buying a new car. Cars are often in storage before they are sold, so it is hardly surprising that some are sold with out of date sat nav data.

mike alexander says:
29 July 2016

I bought a Skoda Superb recently and found the maps out of date by a good 12 months. Upon enquiry I was assured that it’s only a sim card that needs changing to complete the update. As to cost I haven’t found out yet!

I use my iPhone, with google maps, when my sat-nav became ‘somewhat unreliable’.
I guess, as I only use ‘pay as you go’, it’s probably added a slight extra on the bill, but, I feel it’s a lot less aggravation than, the added expense of updating your sat-nav.

Yes, my sat-nav was out of date too, but the company told me this was the latest available. I have to download the update to a USB stick and then transfer it to the car. While this is free, it is a complicated process, one I forgot to ask my dealer to do at the last service. I wonder what they would have said to that request? Sadly, I don’t get the opportunity to travel very often, but, when I do, I find it easy to programme my sat-nav. It is a convoluted system to work through and like the one in the post above, it is quite quick to start listing street names. Full post codes are possible though. I haven’t yet failed to arrive and when it knows what’s ahead, it gives clear instructions including blanking out road closures in red. When it gets lost I keep going straight on until it starts talking again. Not perfect but I can live with it.

It might not always be that the sat-nav in a new car is an old version – the entire geography of an area might have changed and is still awaiting a re-survey and aerial photography. Three years after moving into our new home the address and the road layout still do not appear on Google maps or the major satellite navigation systems. We have to give the postcode for a nearby road to any new visitor or delivery company and tell them to turn right at the end and keep going! After seeing an ambulance crew asking for directions I decided to write to the blue light control rooms enclosing an amended map and postcode details to ensure they would find our little settlement in the woods in the event of an emergency.

I do not need a satnav. I managed very well without one before they became available things and everyone insisted you had and used one. I would not have one fitted if it was an option A map and maybe a look at “Google “maps just to see exactly where I wish to go is all I need. How many people know how to read a map now. !? !?

Well said, Bishbut. I suppose there are a lot of drivers now who wonder what direction signs are for and how they work, especially the ones with pictures of the junctions on them. I usually know roughly how to get to places from basic geographical knowledge but satnav is useful to find the way to a specific address if a local street map is not available. Where we live we just turn right and we soon reach the coast – anywhere will do and there’s usually some interesting places on the way; coming back could be the tricky bit but most signs point to Norwich and we know the way from there. They keep the milestones on the main roads in good condition around our part of the world so you can tell if you’re going in the right direction.

Before satnav I used to write a list of key roads, junctions and towns on a file card when planning a journey. The trouble with that was if you missed a turn the plan fell apart. At least with satnav it tolerates your mistakes and plots a new route. However I do agree we should retain map reading skills both for sheer interest and for usefulness; my ancient tomtom loses satellites from time to time – sometimes for 1/2 hour or more – and the guidance process stops. If you don’t carry a road atlas, can’t read road signs or know the area then you’ve a problem brewing.

Reading maps and basic navigation should be one of those topics that should be taught in schools, under a “dealing with everyday life” heading.

Maps are good for getting a general knowledge of what to expect in the journey, but I found I needed to stop now and then to update my memory and it was not so easy to estimate the distance between one junction and the next, leading to making premature turns or missing the turning I wanted. Often the world on the ground was not what was expected from the map and traffic, buildings and roundabouts confused issues, especially when there was little time to make ones mind up before committing. Road signs could also omit vital information just when it was needed most. Most of these things are taken care of by my sat-nav, and while it may be a lazy way of navigating, for me (whose sense of direction is not that good) it makes every journey that much easier on today’s crowded and impatient road network.

I agree Malcolm. Having a phone handy is also a good tip so you can phone a friend for directions. Couldn’t do that in the old days – you had to stop at a roadside AA or RAC box and ask the Roadscout.

Only if there is mobile coverage John – being discussed in another Convo 🙂 Nothing beats having basic knowledge that does not rely upon technology that can fail you in moments of need.

That’s my philosophy, Malcolm. No satnav, usually can’t find the mobile, rarely wear a watch – have to use your own resources. Get there in the end. Breaks the ice at parties.

I carry a road atlas but the maps are out of date. 🙁

Few would think about expecting the manufacturer to provide free or low cost updates for a road atlas, yet we do with software. I don’t pay for a web browser (though at one time, paid-for versions were available), I don’t pay to update my phone or tablet operating systems and I don’t pay to update my computer and laptop operating systems. Microsoft has ended the free offer on Windows 10, but I expect that we will see free Windows updates not too far in the future.

I expect that most people would prefer to pay a bit extra for a sat nav and get updates free. If a built-in sat nav is an option on a car, it is obvious how much it adds to the cost, as do other options. Standalone sat navs with inclusive map updates are not expensive now, so it is high time that regular sat nav updates are provided with every new car.

Cough up for a new atlas, wavechange – they are cheap enough 🙂

If updates are essential for computers, phones, sat navs that correct faulty information or operation then they should be free. But I would be happy to pay if enhanced features were added – like updated maps. However they should be sensibly priced and not used as cash cows. Surely a memory card or USB stick either preloaded, or one you load off the internet, should be fairly cheap. You need to pay to support the work and staff needed to provide the fresh information of course.

I have a number of old road maps and atlases. They are not so good for inter-city driving [no motorways] but no problem in rural areas because the country lanes haven’t changed that much [they don’t show the modern suburbs and rash of new housing developments though].

A map will give a good overview of a route, reasonable alternatives, and much more beside. I see a map as complementary to a sat nav. When on holiday I take a fairly recent Philips Navigator road atlas. I’m fond of walking canal towpaths and the Philips atlas shows every lock and other information that would not be shown on a standard road atlas or a sat nav. I make a copy of the relevant page rather than lugging around the large atlas. If I’m going to spend a week in an area I usually buy an OS map.

The standard road atlas that lives in the car is older but still good enough for what I need on the rare occasions I need it.

BCW says:
30 July 2016

Bought a brand new Suzuki in 2014 that had a built in Garmin sat nav. The Map supplied was a year or so out of date and a fee of £55 was required to update it. I did not update it as the sat nav itself is so unreliable and the traffic info next to useless. I now use a stand alone TomTom with lifetime maps and traffic which I have to attach to the window. Not the idea really when buying a car with a built in unit,

I bought a new Honda Civic Sport and didn’t take too much notice of the Nav bit of the model name. I new it had sat Nav but that wasn’t a vital part of the reason for buying that model. After some 8 months, having recieved notice fromTomTom that my map subscription was about to expire and would cost £46 to renew I enquirer of Honda how much it would be to update their model. £170!!! I quickly renewed my Tom Tom sub.

We have a used 4 yr old Nissan Note – but to update the built in sat-nav £130+. No thanks.

Carole says:
31 July 2016

Toyota Yaris so complicated to update gave up

Richard M says:
31 July 2016

As sold, it should come with the latest available maps. Failure to do so is shoddy practice. Asking for an “upgrade” fee is unbelievable!

The problem is that the latest available maps might not be up-to-date. It depends when the location was last surveyed and converted into the cartographic format used by the satnav system provider.

I complined about the Sat Nav in my Toyota Landruiser, that I purchased in 2014, after a trip to Rome. Roundabouts where the least of my problems. It did not show roads that had been around for some years. As a result Toyota did give me a free upgrade to the lastest version they had available. However there is still one very annoying problem with this Sat Nav, the route chosen and rivers are the same colour blue which can prove a little challenging when navigating though an area with rivers!

Tim says:
1 August 2016

I have used Copilot for Android for several years. It costs £21.99 for UK and Europe offline maps and updates for maps and safety cameras are free. It has a live traffic option for a modest annual cost with the first year included. It is so much easier to plan and review trips in advance from the comfort of my living room (or a pub/hotel) than having to sit in my car to do everything with outdated information.
I can’t imagine a good reason to buy an integrated satnav system in a vehicle.

Eve says:
1 August 2016

You should be able to update yourself. It’s a piece of nonsense that you Rio garage has to do it.