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Old 09-15-2010, 06:02 PM   #1
lhendrik OP
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Well Known Zumo 550 Cradle Pin Corrosion Issue

Zumo waterproofing myth: Well I guess we all know by now that the Zumo 550 unit may itself be waterproof, but the connection to the mount, and the mount, especially the pins and where they contact the unit are subject to corrosion, and that this corrosion can result in damage to the Zumo unit, probably by shorting out the Zumo itself. If you are out of warranty, as I am, then it will cost you $150 to have Garmin fix it, likely with a refurb unit. Since I paid $800-900 a few years ago I am going to do just that, as I cannot justify getting a new unit like the 665 yet.

My first reaction to this was anger, at what seems like a bad design that just doesn't work great in a motorcycle environment. Now, a day later, I am thinking $150 isn't too bad to use this unit for two more years or so, or until I find the replacement units more compelling.

For those of you with Zumo 550's or similar, I suggest keeping the cradle covered with a baggie when left on the bike outside. Unfortunately, my bike was used in a rainstorm two weeks ago and that is likely where the water came from WHILE the Zumo was in the cradle. I didn't dry the pins area off when I removed the unit for my night in a motel and within two weeks corrosion built up and shorted out my Zumo. This sucks. Be forewarned.
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lhendrik screwed with this post 09-19-2010 at 01:29 PM
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Old 09-18-2010, 12:20 PM   #2
Snowfreak
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What about dabbing some dielectric grease on the contact area to prevent this? Anyone tried this or is it not recommended. I usually keep a baggie over the unit if I'm parking outside for the night or just take it off.
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Old 09-18-2010, 01:46 PM   #3
VonHelm
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I had a similar issue, but my 550 wouldn't charge on the cradle after being left out all night in a driving rainstorm.

The Zumo would charge just fine with the AC transformer, just not in the cradle. I bought a new cradle on Amazon for less than $60 US.

Is your Zumo completely dead?
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Old 09-19-2010, 01:28 PM   #4
lhendrik OP
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Zumo works great, just won't take a charge from any of my 3 cradles, 2 bikes , 1 car (it does charge from the USB/wall adapter) and since you need to be getting cradle power to charge on the go and to use audio output functions (except blue-tooth) I have to send the unit to Garmin for fix ($150). I do have an extended (36 month) warranty (RepairTech) that I will try to use for this repair/refurbish as the unit is 2 years old.
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Old 09-19-2010, 03:28 PM   #5
VonHelm
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I guess I got lucky. Mine has been fine since I replaced the cradle. I think water got in through the USB port in the cradle. I had no corrosion on the contacts, but there was evidence that water had pooled in the bottom of the cradle, until it shorted the ribbon cable connector on the internal circuit board. When it shorted, it blew a conductor in half. The main ribbon cable had corrosion on it as well, where it attached to the board.

I'd be curious to see what the inside of your cradle looks like. Do you use an external XM antenna on yours?
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Old 09-19-2010, 03:46 PM   #6
Bent Peg
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I bought mine when the 550 first came out. No pin wear issues yet, but I put some Permatex Anti-Seize aluminum colored stuff on the pins with a Q-tip a couple of times a year too. The gold pads still look like new if I wipe off the little gray dots of Permatex during cleaning and re-Permatexing them.

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Old 09-20-2010, 03:10 PM   #7
lhendrik OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VonHelm
I guess I got lucky. Mine has been fine since I replaced the cradle. I think water got in through the USB port in the cradle. I had no corrosion on the contacts, but there was evidence that water had pooled in the bottom of the cradle, until it shorted the ribbon cable connector on the internal circuit board. When it shorted, it blew a conductor in half. The main ribbon cable had corrosion on it as well, where it attached to the board.

I'd be curious to see what the inside of your cradle looks like. Do you use an external XM antenna on yours?
Let me try again: I have three cradles including one for my car that ha never been wet. None of them work. It is not the cradle that is broken. Corrosion that was once on my MC cradle has apparently shorted out the charging circuit in the Zumo itself. It can happen to you so beware the corrosion that forms on the pins of the Zumo bike cradle when it gets wet.
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Old 09-20-2010, 04:12 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowfreak
What about dabbing some dielectric grease on the contact area to prevent this? Anyone tried this or is it not recommended. I usually keep a baggie over the unit if I'm parking outside for the night or just take it off.
I apply dielectric grease to the pins a couple times a year and have never had a problem with corrosion or water damage on the mounts on either one of my bikes.
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Old 09-20-2010, 07:27 PM   #9
VonHelm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhendrik
Let me try again: I have three cradles including one for my car that ha never been wet. None of them work. It is not the cradle that is broken. Corrosion that was once on my MC cradle has apparently shorted out the charging circuit in the Zumo itself. It can happen to you so beware the corrosion that forms on the pins of the Zumo bike cradle when it gets wet.
I understand your situation. I was simply trying to explain to you what my circumstances were. It's different, yes, but it directly related to the cradle. Your cradle fried your Zumo, my cradle fried itself.

I'm asking questions because I'm trying to run a root-cause analysis on cradle failures. I've got over four decades of electronic design, manufacturing, testing, and troubleshooting background. In my case, it was directly related to water incursion inside the cradle, not outside on the contact field.

If you find that you need to replace your suspect motorcycle cycle cradle after you get your Zumo repaired, I will gladly reimburse you for postage if you send me a dead cradle.

This applies to anyone out there if you have in your possession a dead Garmin Zumo 550 motorcycle cradle. PM me with the postage cost within the continental US, and I'll send you my mailing address and check to cover the postage. Send it the cheapest USPS.

I'd like to get at least 5 or 6 dead cradles to dissect. Please include the approximate age, circumstances of failure, and whether you had any externally connected devices at the time of failure, i.e. headphones, speakers, external antennas for satellite radio or traffic alerts. I do not want accessories or mounting hardware, only the cradle.

I am not affiliated with Garmin or any or its subsidiaries. I'm a hobbyist, and I'm trying to help keep these things alive.

Thank you.
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Old 09-21-2010, 05:19 PM   #10
lhendrik OP
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Thanks.
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Old 09-21-2010, 06:00 PM   #11
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OK, for 150 you get a refurb unit, but no cradle. Same cradle w/ corrosion.....ya know what's going to happen.


I've been having problems w/ my cradle, as music is distorted, caused by vibration of unit on cradle. Music becomes clearer when holding unit with my hand. This is probably due to corrosion too.
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Old 09-22-2010, 11:21 PM   #12
lhendrik OP
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Cleaned up the corrosion with contact cleaner, and I have another cradle on another bike. Also discovered I have a 36 month extended warranty with Repair Tech, which was included when I bought from GPSCity.....unit is two years old.
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Old 09-23-2010, 03:39 AM   #13
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In 2007 I noticed the first signs with some discoloration on one of the contacts. Since then I have kept everything clean and used dielectric grease with no problems. I'm just careful, keep it dry when I wash the bike and after riding in the rain I am careful to not let it sit wet. I'm still on my original zumo from when they first came out.

Also, I originally replaced two mounts due to the noise issue, after putting a small piece of velcro padding on the zumo to take any play out of the interlock between the sumo and the mount, i have had no issues with all mounts being on the bikes for a couple years. I found that this isn't necessary if you use the TT mount, the two spring loaded pads that engage the back of the zumo do the same thing. No noise or static, even on my buzzy handlebar RAM installation,

I too will continue to use the zumos until something better comes along.
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Old 09-23-2010, 04:26 AM   #14
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My 550 has been working very good now for about 4 years. However, I liberally use ACF50 on the cradle (and a lot of other places on the bikes), and have not had any issues.
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Old 09-27-2010, 01:23 PM   #15
lhendrik OP
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OP Update: Good news for me is that my extended warranty, which I only remembered I had a few days ago (included free in original purchase from GetFeetWet GPS) will cover the repairs to my Zumo 550. I have a Repair Tech Extended warranty (3 years), and apparently they got into some difficulty (and may even have folded), but some of their warranties were picked up by a new company, and THEY are honoring mine. The called today to tell me that they have arranged, and will pay the $150 for a repair/refurb/replacement from Garmin.

Given what I think is a fairly high failure rate on Zumo's I would recommend some kind of extended warranty on a device this extensive, something I never did on any electronics before. If I were to buy a 665 I would certainly want to hedge my $800+ investment.

Good reading here about protecting the charging/data pins with grease....I'll do that when I get the unit back, and keep an eye on corrosion, and never leave the cradle uncovered in the rain.
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