Troubleshooting the Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor on the Garmin 310XT

garmin 310xt

I have a plastic tote in my garage filled with an old car radio, a cordless house phone, and lots of stereo speaker wire. I had almost given up on getting any sort of accurate heart rate readings from my Garmin 310XT, but I decided to make one last call to Garmin before relegating this device to the garage.

My Garmin 310XT has served me well for the past 3 years, but the inaccurate heart rate readings coming from the Premium Heart Rate Strap almost caused me to switch to a different device. After all, I use heart rate as the key monitoring tool for all of my training and I needed this function to work.

When I first received the 310XT the heart rate monitor worked ok, not perfect, but manageable. As the device aged something started to go wrong…

My heart rate readings would jump up to 200+ bpm and then suddenly drop to 140 bpm. Sometimes it would get stuck at high heart rate readings of 230 bpm or a low heart rate reading of 92 bpm. Sometimes the watch wouldn’t even detect the heart rate monitor.

monitor in box

Let me also add that I live in probably one of the worst climates for monitoring your heart rate. The Nevada desert averages only 18% humidity and, in the winter, your clothes can’t escape the static electricity. In addition, we have lots of overhead, high voltage power lines which I’m told can affect a heart rate monitor.

I had tried the suggested fixes such as:

  • Shifting the strap sensors to the back
  • Shifting the strap sensors to the side
  • Applying ultrasound gel before my workout – this helps until it wears off

When I made my second call to Garmin I told the rep my frustrations and that I had tried the suggested fixes. He admitted that some older models had seen problems and sent me a free updated model of the Premium Heart Rate Monitor (Soft Strap). I really didn’t know if this would help, but I tried it and…night and day difference!

Take a look at the pictures below comparing the design of the old premium soft strap to the new premium soft strap design. The new strap doesn’t allow the metal buttons to touch the skin and instead connects with a hook closure on the side. This new design prevents the metal fastener joints from wiggling whereas, on the old model, the metal buttons had to be used to secure the strap around your chest and overtime this created a bad connection for monitoring.

old and updated strapsUpdated Garmin premium heart rate monitor on left and old model on the right.

 

Did it work? Well on my very first run the watch read a smooth accurate heart rate graph and has continued to function well for the past 5 months. Below I’ve summarized my experience with the Garmin 310XT Heart Rate functions based on using the Updated Premium Soft Strap. If you have an old model I suggest you call Garmin and ask for a replacement.

My Troubleshooting Tips:

  • You’ll notice a huge improvement upon switching to the new style of premium soft strap.
  • Heart rate readings are still greatly affected by clothing so if you run on a windy day expect the monitor to register extra bpm when your loose shirt flaps against the strap. The best practice would be to wear tight fitting workout shirts, jogging bras, tri tops, or tri suits.
  • The first 10 minutes of your workout can still result in jagged readings until your heart rate moves into a higher range.
  • If you have an old Garmin strap remove the battery so the watch reads the new strap instead of the old one.
  • If the watch continues to have trouble detecting your heart rate monitor then turn off the heart rate antenna in the watch settings, remove the battery from the strap for 10 minutes, then reinsert the battery, put on the strap, and turn the heart rate antenna back on in your watch.
  • Always make sure the heart rate strap is tight and positioned under just the pecs at the bottom of the sternum.

Special thanks for Garmin for sending me a free updated strap.

Check out this review by DC Rainmaker for a detailed review of all 310XT features.

The Garmin 310XT is still available at a lower price while the 910XT is now Garmin’s top of the line multi-sport watch. Both models use the same premium heart rate strap and appear to have the same heart rate features.

old monitor strap
Old style of Garmin premium heart rate monitor strap

 

new monitor strapNewly updated Garmin premium heart rate monitor strap

,

8 Responses to Troubleshooting the Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor on the Garmin 310XT

  1. James January 6, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    Hi DC,
    My soft strap for the 310XT just died (and yes I did change the battery, and follow all of the reconnection wisdom, its just old I guess). It is what you call the ‘old’ design in the post above. I have not exactly had the problems you have described above with ‘peaky’ readings, but I have to say the strap did have an annoying habit of popping open if any pressure was applied (lying on a surfboard, taking a skiing knock, doing push ups, etc). So, I’d really like to get hold of the ‘updated’ soft strap described above.However in all the shops in Europe (Amazon, etc) the one they describe as ‘new’ always shows the ‘old’ one. Even the Garmin website doesn’t seem to have the ‘updated’ one (They show the old one Part no.010-10997-02). Could you perhaps tell me what where I could find the ‘updated’ one? Or perhaps give me a part number? (Its great playing Garmin tech support isn’t it?)
    Thanks J.

    • Dillon January 7, 2013 at 6:53 am #

      James,

      I took a look at the Garmin site and I’m only finding the same part numbers and pictures as you mentioned. Part no. 010-10997-02 https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=15490

      It looks to me like one of the pictures is clearly the “old” style chest strap, but one of the other pictures shown might be the “newer” strap. Garmin may have not done a good job of updating the pictures on their site. I took at look at my strap and it did not have the 010-10997-02 part number on it. Curiously though, the other numbers on both my straps there were exactly the same even though the designs are different.

      What to do? I would probably “roll the dice” and just order the 010-10997-02 from the Garmin site. To the best of my knowledge they updated this strap in early 2012 and I would think they would only be shipping the newer version at this point. They may have just updated to the newer design without actually changing the part numbers. If you don’t get what you want you can always call and send it back.

      …not a clear cut answer but I hope this helps your decision…

      Dillon

  2. Chris salter May 17, 2013 at 2:28 am #

    I have had the 910xt for three months, has not worked 1 time. I work out 6 days a week have replaced the first soft strap with hard one with no avail then they updated software nope again then replaced watch now I have the PREMIUM piece of crap that does not work either. Any other suggestions I can bath in that gel sweet From head to toe and still it does not work .

    Chris Salter

    • Dillon May 17, 2013 at 8:07 am #

      Chris,

      I’ve since had my 2nd premium soft strap stop working and will be calling Garmin Tech support again to replace so I feel your frustration. I’ve actually debated about trying a separate device just for heart rate monitoring, (the Mio Alpha) but that also seems a little silly after paying for a Garmin. Let’s just agree that the heart rate monitoring on the Garmin’s works great for a select few, is mediocre for most, and total frustration for the unfortunate.

      I have found that it works well for me in a controlled environment like the bike trainer or treadmill. If I come across any new tips or insight I’ll put an update on the blog post.

  3. Geoff Gordon May 29, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    I have read some interesting reports from Dillon & DC Rainmaker which explains some of the high readings I occasionally get. That has been helpful but i have occasionally had the opposite scenario. Halfway through a long run my HR can drop from normal 160 to as low as 90 or 100 (even once I was running up hills) before jumping back to normal. I have the premium soft strap about 2 years old. Wondering if anyone else experiences these drops in HR?

    • Jean-Luc Lemieux July 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      I experienced the same.. in both directions. HR spike to insane values on bike rides and going freeking low on long runs… lower then my HR at rest! I suspect the strap as I heard the same from other sources. I am looking into that but I find it not easy to get the correct information on replacement.

  4. Robertb March 13, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    Think of Garmin accessories as consumable items; in the UK, the warranty allows one replacement, but the replacement has no warranty of its own. I’m on my third GSC10 speed/cadence sensor, and 2nd HRM monitor, which is now playing up again. I will not be replacing them with Garmin items.

    On this basis, I would need persuading to buy the Garmin Vector power meters for >£1000 as based on my experience Garmin quality is evidently lacking and not fit for purpose.

  5. Dillon March 14, 2014 at 4:53 am #

    Interesting Robert. I think you might be right in using the term “consumables”. Since writing this blog post in 2012 my replacement HR strap has stopped working. I’ve tried new batteries but it continues to drop connection with the monitor. I haven’t yet replaced it with a new strap.

Leave a Reply