Depending on which figures you believe, up to 15 percent of the UK’s roads change each year. That means your satnav’s maps will become less accurate as time goes on. New roads and housing estates are built, existing roads can be changed from two-way to one-way streets or pedestrianised and new junctions and roundabouts are added. At worst you’ll end up in the wrong place, unable to find your destination, or you might simply be late.
See also: Satnav reviews
Of course, it’s up to you how regularly you update your satnav’s maps and different manufacturers offer different options, ranging from subscriptions for regular updates to one-time upgrades.
You might want to buy additional maps – for example upgrading from UK & Ireland to full Western Europe – so you can use your satnav on holiday.
As long as your satnav is relatively modern (within the last five years or so), you should be able to update it. Smaller brands such as Navigon might present a problem, but those with TomTom, Garmin or Navman satnavs should be fine.
Bear in mind that updates can be expensive – costing almost as much as you paid for the satnav in the first place - and it might be worth putting the money towards a new, better-featured satnav which will come with the latest maps. (Plus, new satnavs almost universally have a 90-day ‘latest map guarantee’ which means that if a new version is released within three months of purchasing, you are entitled to download it and update your device for free.)
How to update your sat nav maps
There are two main ways to update maps on a satnav. The easiest is to use the USB cable that came with it to plug it into your PC.
If your satnav has a removable storage card, such as SD or microSD, it might be possible to plug this directly into your PC or laptop’s card reader and update the maps this way.
Regardless of which method, you’ll also need to install the software that came on a CD, but it’s better to check the manufacturer’s website for the latest software.
Don't forget that your satnav's software (as opposed to the maps) may also need updating, so look for 'firmware' or software updates for your particular model on the manufacturer's website support section.
Here are the links to the relevant pages to download the appropriate software for your satnav:
TomTom’s charges depend on how old your map is, with 40 percent off if your map is 3-6 months old. If it’s more than three years old, you get no discount. With no discount, an update will cost you £75, which entitles you to update your device up to four times within 12 months. There’s no lifetime update option, but all new TomTom satnavs now come with free map updates for life.
Just make sure you check before you buy since some older stock is still on sale which doesn't have free updates. For example, the Via 135 doesnt, but the Via 135 M does (M stands for Maps).
Garmin charges £50 for a single update, or £75 for updates for the lifetime of your satnav.
Mio charges £40 for a one-time update of the UK/Ireland map, and £50 for Western Europe.