If you’re a Nintendo Switch owner, chances are good you’ve already heard about Joy-Con drift. This is actually part of a much bigger issue. Controller drift may be most talked about on the Switch, but it can be a problem on any gaming controller with one or more analog sticks. This includes the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S controllers. While these may not have the same numbers of cases of controller drift, it’s still a problem people are running into. Fortunately, we can help you fix it.
What Is Controller Drift?
Controller drift is the term we use to describe when a controller acts as if it has a mind of its own. A character in a game might constantly walk to the left or right, or your camera might always be moving.
Different things can cause controller drift, from software glitches to dust and debris gathering inside a controller. As for drift in the Nintendo Joy-Con controllers, it is often caused by wear and tear where the analog stick meets its contact within the controller.
Nintendo engineers say that, much like tires on a car, this type of wear is unavoidable. Basically, if you use your Joy-Con controller heavily, you’ll eventually have to deal with some sort of drift. This is mostly the case with other controllers as well.
How to Fix Nintendo Joy-Con Drift
You might not be out of luck just because you’re experiencing phantom inputs or Joy-Con drift symptoms. If the problems seem minor, you may be able to solve them by recalibrating your controller. All of these options will also work with the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.
Open “System Settings” on your Switch, then go to “Controllers and Sensors” and select “Calibrate Control Sticks.” Follow the on-screen instructions to calibrate your controller.
If recalibrating didn’t resolve the problem, you can try updating the controller.
Open “System Settings,” go to “Controllers and Sensors,” then scroll down until you see “Update Controllers.” This will update whichever controllers you’re using with the Switch at the time.
If neither of the above options worked, you could be dealing with either wear of the analog sticks or dust inside the controller. For dust, try using a can of compressed air to blow out the inside of both analog sticks.
If you’ve tried all the above options and you’re still experiencing drift, it may be time to send your controller in to Nintendo.
Replace or Repair Your Nintendo Joy-Con for Free
Nintendo is aware of the Joy-Con drift problem. The company has set up a repair program for the controllers, which is easy to use, depending on where you live. This entire process is free of charge.
Be careful sending in limited edition Joy-Con controllers for repair. Nintendo doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get back the same controller you sent in, so if you send your matching controller from a limited edition Switch, you may never see it again.
To request a repair, head to the Nintendo Joy-Con repair site. Note that this form is only for those residing in the United States or Canada. If you live elsewhere, you’ll need to find a local repair center on the Nintendo website.
Fill out the form with your information. Once this is complete, you’ll get a shipping label to ship your Joy-Con controller or controllers to Nintendo for repair.
Nintendo is sending out the newest version of its Joy-Con analog sticks when it does repair. The company says these newer versions are sturdier but may not be fully immune to drift.
How to Fix PS4 and PS5 Controller Drift
The DualSense controller for the PlayStation 5 and DualShock 4 controller for the PlayStation 4 aren’t as susceptible to controller drift as the Joy-Con, but it can still happen.
Fixing DualSense Drift Issues
Resetting your PS5 DualSense controller can solve drift issues. Power off your PS5. On the back of the DualSense, there is a tiny hole on the right. Press this with a paperclip or pin and hold it down for five seconds.
This will disconnect it from your PS5. Reconnect and see if your issues persist. You can also try blasting the analog sticks with canned compressed air. If you see dust flying out, it’s a good sign that the controller needed to be cleaned.
If you’re only experiencing drift in certain games, you can see if they have a “dead zone” setting in the options. Recent “Call of Duty” games have this option, as an example. Increasing the dead zone will stop drift if it’s only occurring in that game.
Fixing DualShock 4 Drift Issues
The DualShock 4 has been around for several years at this point and still hasn’t seen widespread drift issues. That said, the standard fixes can help here.
You can reset your PS4 DualShock controller using the same method as the DualSense above. If this doesn’t work, try cleaning the analog sticks and hitting them with some compressed air to clean out the inside.
How to Fix Xbox One / Xbox Series X|S Controller Drift
The Xbox One controller and the Xbox Series X|S controllers are very similar, so much so that you can actually use the newer controllers on the older console as well as a Windows PC. Fixing controller drift on either controller is a similar process, though it seems to happen more often on older Xbox One controllers.
First, try the same canned air trick outlined above for other controllers. This can help get rid of dust and debris.
Xbox controllers are more prone to sticking, which is an easier problem to solve. Using a cotton swab or cloth, apply rubbing alcohol to the base of the analog sticks, rotating the stick as you go so you can get the alcohol under the controller casing.
This can break down and remove any sticky residue or dust on the analog stick. You may have to repeat this multiple times.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. I paid to repair my Joy-Con(s). Can I get a refund from Nintendo?
Yes. Now that Nintendo is providing free repairs, the company is providing refunds to customers who paid for repairs before free repairs were available. To get your refund, call 1-855-548-4693 in the United States and Canada. For other countries, you can find the number to call on the Nintendo website.
2. I have drift on my Switch Pro Controller. Will Nintendo repair it for free?
Drift seems like less of an issue on the Pro Controller, so Nintendo isn’t providing free repairs. If you think the problem is with your Switch and not your controller, you can visit Nintendo’s repair page.
3. My Xbox controller has drift issues. Will Microsoft repair it?
Microsoft doesn’t have a repair program like Nintendo, but if your controller isn’t working and is under warranty, you can request a replacement via Microsoft.
4. My PS5 or PS4 controller has drift issues. Will Sony repair it?
Sony offers limited repair services for the DualSense and PS4 controllers. To troubleshoot issues or request a repair, visit Sony’s Fix & Replace page.
If you’ve just had enough of your Nintendo Switch and want to get rid of it, read on to learn how you can reset it for resale. If your problems revolve more around battery life, find out how to get a longer battery life on your Nintendo Switch.