Motorola Talkabout - Short range

Hello folks - newbie here. We just bought a pair of Motorola Talkabout walkie talkies (2-Way radio, T4XX Series) from Costco, and the range is ridiculously short.
We live in Thousand Oaks, CA, where there are mountains around, but i’m talking about not receiving messages 0.1 miles apart. I want to think it is something basic i’m not doing right, and wanted to consult here before I throw them back at the Costco customer care.

I’m using the default #1 Channel, which by the manual says: 462.5625 MHz / GMRS/FRS. Should I be using a different channel, maybe?


The first thing to determine is whether the range is shorter than what you are expecting, or shorter than what you SHOULD expect with these radios.

They transmit on the UHF two-way radio band, and this means that ALL transmissions are line-of-sight. Average range in real world conditions in an urban area with buildings and trees is a few blocks. More expensive FRS or GMRS radios may result in slightly better reception because of better receiver sections but the ugly reality of consumer two-way radios is that REAL range is about 1/10 of a mile in an urban area and maybe 1/2 a mile to 2 miles at most in an open area with no hills in between. The most expensive FRS or GMRS radio on the market cannot better these ranges by more than a few hundred feet at best.

That’s one of the reasons why these consumer radios are cheap.

The other reason is that one cannot refute the laws of physics with marketing speak. Even top notch companies like Motorola have to exaggerate their claims just to compete with everyone else on the market. If both radios were on top of mountains peaks, one MIGHT get 30 or 40 miles. In real life, it is about 1/2 a mile.

So, can you better define the range you are getting. Is it one block? Ten Blocks? 20 blocks? Urban, or rural? What is in between the two radios: building, vehicles, trees, hills etc. If you can let us know, then we can help you define if you are getting the range you should expect to get.

NO ONE ever gets the range they are expecting.

The radios are doing what they are supposed to do within the scope of their operation, so exchanging them for other radios probably won’t resolve the issue of range. If you are surrounded by mountains, and you are not on top of one, the range you are getting from them now is about par.

This is a frequently asked question and there is a lot of discussion about range all over the forum. Here are some resources that will help you understand the radios better.

30 Miles? The Truth About Range
Getting The Most Range From Your Radio

In-depth discussion - The Two Way Radio Show Podcast
TWRS-45 - The Truth About GMRS Radio Range

This short video will explain it in less than 2 minutes
Radio 101 - The truth about FRS / GMRS two way radio range

Thank you both for really good answers … I think the fact that I am surrounded by mountains is the reason why i’m getting such bad reception.

Learned a lot from reading your answers.

Happy holidays.

Hello, i bought a Motorola T605 and the channels are limited to 8 channels. How can i unlock all of them till 22?

I need the channel 16 to contact the tower for the marina

If you are talking about a marina on Marine Channel 16 (the universal hailing channel), you won’t be able to do that. The Motorola T605 is an FRS radio, and can only operate on GMRS and FRS channels. To talk to anyone on a marine channel, you will need a marine radio. Depending on the country, you may also need a maritime operator licence, and you can only communicate boat-to-boat and boat-to-licenced shore station. FRS channel 16 does not correspond to marine channel 16.

Hope this helps.

Also, you said that you are limited to 8 channels. Do you mean that you cannot go to any channel higher than channel 8? This would be very unusual, as the Motorola T605 is a full 22 channel FRS radio and the channels are not “locked” or “unlocked” out of the box.

Thank you appreciate your response it was very helpful

Hey thanks for your reply. Yes they were limited till channel 8 and says on the manual you should consult your authorities to give you access to channels 9-22.

When i asked the store i bought it from, they knew nothing and weren’t able to assist.

Ah, you must have the PMR446 version. We are based in the US, so the T605 sold in this country has 22 FRS channels, which are license free. From what I understand, the PMR446 version still has 22 channels, but only channels 1-8 are license free, and the others require a license to use. In what country are you located?

Either way, the Motorola T605 operates on the UHF band, and marine radios use frequencies in the VHF band, so as Chickenhawk said earlier, your radio will not communicate with marine radios.

You should consider MURS radios 2watts VHF. Also make sure your current frs radios are set to high power. 2 watts on all 22channels is legal now without gmrs license.