Well might be making my first long drive to Des Moines, IA next week. I’ve drivin out of town to smaller towns in the past but never a big city like DSM, so I am thinking about purchasing a GPS to aid me since I maybe going solo.

I am not up to date on GPS systems but do a big portion still charge monthly or are most of them pre-downloaded? Also by the looks of it who ever installed the after market radio in my Escort wired it straight to the battery (so no cig liter unless I rip it out and add one) so my unit will have to be ran off batteries, do these tend to last like that? Found a unit online on Radio Shack’s website, its the Garmin® nüvi 40LM GPS Navigator, any yeses or no on the brand/model from anyone?

Any advice is appreciated!

The Garmin units tend to be very good.
Magellan units are generally not rated as highly as the Garmin ones are.
My brother has both a Garmin and a Tom-Tom, and he HATES the Tom-Tom.
I can’t recall the exact reasons why he hates the Tom-Tom, but I do know that he now transfers the Garmin from car to car, rather than using the Tom-Tom.

As far as I know, the modern units do not have a monthly fee.

Do you have a smart phone? If so, is there a reason you can’t use that for maps & directions?

@VDCdriver I’ve heard bad reviews on Tom-Tom units as well, seems like they are all flash no go on software and keeping you up to date.

@JoeMario I do but I’ve tried using it and wanted to chuck it out the window, lol. Loads to slowly off the data.

We’ve had a Garmin widescreen for several years and they are good. You can also load up Western Europe for about $45 if you want to. All units tend to have the US and Canada preloaded. Never heard of a monthly charge. We don’t bother with the updates. Things don’t change that much over time.

Agree that Garmin is better than Tom-Tom. Our rental car’s Tom-Tom led us to a truck graveyard instead of Cardiff Castle when touring Wales.

Called Garmin and spoke to a representative, they do not charge depending on model. With the model I’m looking at there is no charge and maps are life time updates for free.

@Docnick lol, heard of my aunt’s Tom-Tom misleading as well in Iowa City, IA.

I have used several brands. I don’t see much difference from brand to brand. It seems that the newer models have fewer problems.

I always keep a paper map in my trunk, just encase.

@JosephEMeehan indeed sometimes the old manual ways are best.

I have one of these…Lifetime updates, the bag mount is a must and works great. It has a memory expansion slot so you can load it up with all sorts of options…You must download a complete owners manual to use all the many features. On interstate trips, it’s kind of useless but for taking you to a specific address it’s very handy to have. It’s also handy for navigating through complex interchanges…It takes a few minutes to learn how to enter “saved” locations…

Went out and purchased one. Will say not a bad device, waiting for updates to go through so I can give it a test run.

We’ve got the Garmin. Wife likes it. In fact we have the built in navigation system too but the wife still likes to use the Garmin to find things. Screen size is an issue to me. Really though DesMoines is not that big.

I have a Garmin…and won’t buy another GPS system since it’s now in every smart phone. Since the Iphone 4s it comes with voice commands just like Garmin. And I don’t have to worry about spending money on map updates.

I have a Garmin with lifetime map updates and lifetime traffic. The traffic app isn’t very good, but the lifetime map updates is terrific. You’ll pay extra for the map updates up front, but only about what you’d pay for one map update. I’ve updated mine 2 times already in about 3 years. I’ve had 2 Garmins lad like them both. The older one is around 6 years old and still works fine without updates.

I love my Tom Tom. I haven’t had any issues and it tries to avoid taking me through the centers of big cities if passing through. My parents have much more problems with their Garmin.

Setting up the Garmin to meet your preferences can be tricky…The owners manual, which you must download, has 85 pages…You can “fine tune” the unit to change the route “bias” to avoid or favor almost any driving desire…While you are driving you can also disregard the units advise and head off on your own…

For $6.95, you can get a Rand McNally road atlas. Works for me.

I have a Tom Tom. I like it but sometimes it really bugs me.
Battery does not last long at all.

I bought a Garmin because my wife thinks we need one. I just look at my road atlas before leaving on the trip and have never been lost for more than a few minutes. I have driven to every corner of the United States including Alaska and I have never had the need for GPS. My wife likes to fiddle with the Garmin which gives her something to do. It’s worth every penny having one in the vehicle.

“I have driven to every corner of the United States including Alaska and I have never had the need for GPS.”

I congratulate you on that feat!

Just last week, I had occasion to visit a dog breeder in my own state, located approximately 40 miles away, in an extremely rural area. The twists and turns on narrow, sometimes unmarked, country lanes were quite an adventure, even with the aid of GPS, but, without the aid of GPS, it would undoubtedly have taken me at least twice as long to find her remotely-located home.

And, in cities with which I am not familiar, it has been invaluable, especially in view of street signs that are sometimes missing or obscured, streets that suddenly become one-way (in the wrong direction), and road closings. The ability of a GPS system to recalculate your path within seconds is an incredible advantage whenever you are in unfamiliar territory and have to suddenly make a detour.

I’m with missleman. I’ve found that relying on a voice telling you when & where to turn causes “unfamiliar territory” to forever remain unfamiliar.