Intermittent poor GPS on Android Head Unit

GPS coordination is a key feature of the android headunit and when it is slow to update the position or fail to lock onto a satellite the frustrations can set in.


GPS is the first in a series on many satellite orbits that are used by in-car, on-boat, in-air and had-held devices to pinpoint the location grid reference that can then be mapped.


The key to this GPS problem of poor satellite tracking is and therefore an inaccurate or non-existent map position is the intermittent part. For GPS install that have never worked, this guide may be helpful to follow but it is aimed at the intermittent GPS fault.

Satellite Check

fixing gps satellites android headunit
Waiting for GPS satellites to populate the display

When diagnosing any GPS fault, the satellite discovery screen on your android head unit is the key. If you don’t have the GPS satellites showing on the screen, install the GPS Data App from PlayStore. Grant the location permission to view the satellites available on ‘GPS Data Sky’.


If you don’t see any satellites within a few minutes, move the car outside and wait with the GPS Data Sky showing for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This will give the GPS time to see a satellite and pick up the almanac that is transmitted every 12.5 minutes. If it starts to gather satellites in the screen this is probably due to the GPS being on cold start mode. In Cold Start mode, everything about GPS has been forgotten by the headunit, no data is available and the headunit has only just been installed or the battery disconnected.

good GPS satellite tracking on android head unit
Good level of GPS satellites being tracked on android head unit.

Satellites disappear

If you have a healthy number of satellites but find they disappear when diving, not due to tunnels then you may have a faulty GPS antenna. These are cheaply mass produced antennas. A quick and easy way to prove the intermittent GPS problem is due to the aerial is to just swap it out. You may only need to do this temporarily, no need to pull the old one out of its installation, but just disconnect it and hook up a temporary one on top of the dashboard.

Spare Parts

Matching up the GPS plug on your android headunit will be the most difficult part, but luckily there are not many different ones to choose from. Pick up another GPS Antenna here. Disconnect your existing antenna and plug/screw in the new one. Put the new GPS antenna on the dashboard and boot into the GPS Data app for ‘sky’ view. Watch to see the satellites lock.

Good GPS signal

If you are now getting a good number of satellite fixes in the sky, even after having to wait, then your intermittent GPS problem is solved with the new antenna. You can now make this a more permanent installation for your android headunit.

Android guy who loves his android head units as much as he loves his cherry pie.

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