Gaming How To Guide

Analog Stick Drift

Here’s everything you need to know about Analog Stick Drift. We’ll explain what it is, how to fix it and how to avoid it from happening again in the future.

We’ve also detailed some replacement controllers that are said to be analog stick drift resistant. So, if you unfortunatley can’t repair it you can buy a new one that won’t suffer the same fate.

Your controller has more than likely been through a bit of punishment since you bought it. And that’s something all gamers have in common! We hammer our controllers more and more as the frustration grows. We’ve all seen the videos of someone losing a game of FIFA in the last last minute, throwing their controller down in disgust.

Whether it’s that final Kingdom Hearts boss or a last minute goal that’s caused a fit of rage to over come you, resulting in a thrown controller. Or, it’s just hours and hours of general wear and tear playing your favorite shooter. If you’re noticing analog stick drift on your controller don’t worry, here’s what you need to do to fix it.

Analog Stick Drift

First up we need to understand exactly what Analog Stick Drift is. There are a couple of different causes. The first one is damaged hardware which is often what causes stick drift in the Nintendo Switch controllers. This photo I found online will help you to understand what causes it and why a self repair may not work 100% of the time.

Photo Credit:

The photo above is a close-up of the contact pad, along with the X, Y and Z axis. It would appear that the black pads in the corners of the blue contact pad are made using a fairly soft material. Theorists suggest this material is probably several layers of printed graphene .

The graphene acts as a resistor. The circuit fluctuations caused by metal contacts on the analog joystick are detected by measuring the differing strength of the electrical current.

The theory is that if the slider is far away, the electricity has to travel through more of the pad material which in turns weakens the current. The CPU then measures this and calculates X, Y and Z positions.

Other Causes

The analog stick drift can also be caused by natural fluctuations in the controller design. It might be positioned slightly outside of the axis of origin when in use.

This analog stick displacement is not unusual and can cause frustrating unintended movement or actions, which will depend on the game. This will depend on the developers chosen default sensitivity settings.

Every controller has an area near the center of each analog stick that’s software controlled. This area is sometimes referred to as a deadzone and you can edit the settings in the majority of games to reduce the deadzone and reduce the chances of suffering from severe analog stick drift.

Some games have really small default deadzones. Games such as Fortnite, Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone, may cause more controllers to display stick drift whilst in game due to those default settings.

It’s easy to resolve deadzone drift:

Resolving the problem is as easy as adjusting the “deadzone”.

  • Locate the settings menu of the game
  • Find the deadzone settings in the menus.
  • Increase the deadzone value slightly.
  • Make sure you save the adjustment.
  • Rinse and repeat if you still suffer from drift.

It’s a little bit more complicated to fix hardware related analog stick drift but we’ll talk about that next.

And most commonly analog stick drift, is caused by dirt, grime and debris!

Analog Stick Drift
Fix Analog Stick Drift

Fix Analog Stick Drift

First things first you’ll need to get a hold of a can of compressed air or you can get an electric air duster. You can find it on Amazon, we’ve done the hard work for you, just hit the affiliate link and it’ll take you to the right product, click here.

Once you’ve got a can or air or an electric alternative make sure your controller is powered off. This is really important for your safety and to ensure you prevent any accidental damage to your controller. It’s also to prevent you from changing anything in your console system settings whilst you’re messing about with the controller..

With the controller powered off, all you need to do is use your can of compressed air or electric air duster, and begin blowing around the bottom of the analog sticks, where they slot into the controller.

Spray in three second bursts and repeat a few times if necessary, waiting a few minutes between each try. You’ll need to wait a few minutes as those cans of compressed air can get extremely cold!

We found the can of compressed air works best. That’s due to having an included nozzle which is extremely thin, so you can get right to the bottom of the analog stick. This allows you to spray a concentrated blast of compressed air right on target, which is a bit more effective than a wider spray pattern.

The idea is to remove any bits of debris and dirt that might be disrupting the internal workings of the controller. With one hand spraying compressed air, the other hand should be moving the analog stick around in all directions. The goal here is to remove the grime to regain smooth movement.

Be careful not to invert the can of compressed air (unless the can is specifically designed to do that) as when inverted, compressed air can turn to liquid. Liquid and electrics are a bad combination.

Once you’ve done this you can try and dislodge any remaining debris and dirt underneath the analog stick. To do this is really simple, just start clicking in the analog sticks and move them around at the same time. Two or three minutes should suffice for this.

Give them another blast with the compressed air just to be on the safe side before turning the controller on.

Turn on your console and give the controller a try. With a tiny bit of luck, this will have hopefully fixed your analog stick drift issue on your controller and you can get back to gaming! Just don’t go throwing it around when your friend scores a lucky goal.

What If This Doesn’t Work?

If the problem persists you could try something a little more drastic by dismantling the controller. But, you’ll need to be super careful. Ensure the controller is turned off and then open the controller by obtaining the correct size screw driver.

Follow the same process as above and again as I mentioned. Be careful you don’t invert the air can to cause it to turn into liquid!

By opening the controller you can remove any bits of debris a little easier. You’ll be able to see if you’ve cleaned anything or not. Dismantling a controller can be a bit tricky though but it might worth doing it if it saves you the cost of a replacement controller.

Opening A Controller to Fix Analog Stick Drift
Here’s how to clean the dust out, in an attempt to fix Joycon drift.

If the above video is not something you’re interested in trying for yourself and your controller is less than a year old you can contract Sony! It should still be within warranty and as long as they can’t prove it’s broken due to accident damage or rage quitting they’ll replace it for free.

And that’s all you need to know to fix the analog stick drift issue.

Replacement Controllers

If your controller is not within warranty it might time to replace your controller. You’ve got a couple of different options. We’ve outlined them below into premium or budget controllers.

Premium Controllers

A premium controller replacement. Good quality should reduce the chances of analog stick drift occurring.
A premium controller replacement. Good quality should reduce the chances of analog stick drift occurring.

Aim Controllers Custom Wireless Contoller:

AimControllers is one of the largest brands supplying fully modified and original Sony and Microsoft controllers, we are able to significantly increase your gaming experience and create a controller just for you. Because how you play matters!

Check it out on Amazon, hit the affiliate link here.

NACON Controller Esports Revolution Unlimited Pro V3:

Performance at your fingertips. NACON’s expertise in eSports controllers has set the standard for what every gamer needs from a controller. Choose your weapon and get ready to smash records on console and PC.

Check it out on Amazon, hit the affiliate link here.

Budget Controllers

A decent replacement if your old controller suffers from analog stick drift.
A decent replacement if your old controller suffers from analog stick drift.

PICTEK Controller:

A fairly modest feature set but it’s really budget friendly. It’ll do as a decent replacement but we’d recommend buying a more premium controller if you want to avoid drift!

Check it out on Amazon, hit the affiliate link here.

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