As an avid Nintendo Switch player, the responsiveness and accuracy of your Joy-Con controllers is essential to fully enjoying your gaming experience. However, many Switch owners have encountered the frustrating issue of Joy-Con drift, where the analog sticks on the controllers become unresponsive or move on their own. This can make playing your favorite Switch games nearly impossible and sap the fun from your gameplay. If you’ve noticed your Joy-Con analog sticks drifting, don’t despair – there are several solutions you can try to fix the issue and get your controllers working as good as new. From recalibrating the controllers to cleaning under the analog stick covers to outright replacement of the analog sticks, we’ll walk you through the common causes of Joy-Con drift and the steps you can take to repair your malfunctioning Joy-Cons. With some patience and the right tools, you can have your Switch controllers fixed in no time and get back to the games you love.
What Is Joy-Con Drift and What Causes It?
If your Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers are drifting, acting sporadically, or moving without input, you’re experiencing the frustrating problem known as “Joy-Con drift.” This issue arises when the analog sticks on the Joy-Con wear down or become dirty, causing unintended inputs.
What Causes Joy-Con Drift?
The most common reasons for Joy-Con drift are:
- Wear and tear: The Joy-Con analog sticks contain sensors that can become damaged or worn down over time with frequent use, leading to drift.
- Dust and debris buildup: Small particles can get trapped under the analog stick, interfering with the sensors and causing drift.
- Manufacturing issues: In some cases, there may be a defect with the Joy-Con that causes drift. Nintendo has repaired or replaced many affected Joy-Con for free.
To determine if your Joy-Con are still under warranty, check the date of purchase. If defective, Nintendo may repair or replace them at no cost. If out of warranty, the following solutions can help fix most drift issues.
With regular use, your Switch Joy-Con controllers will eventually experience some level of deterioration. However, by understanding the causes of Joy-Con drift and trying the recommended solutions, you have a good chance of resolving many common issues to get your controllers working properly again so you can get back to playing your favorite Switch games.
Quick Fixes to Temporarily Alleviate Joy-Con Drift
If your Joy-Con controllers are drifting, there are a few quick fixes you can try to temporarily alleviate the issue before sending them in for repair.
Update the Controller Firmware
Nintendo periodically releases updates to improve performance and fix issues with Joy-Con controllers. Connect your Switch console to the Internet and update to the latest system and controller firmware. This may resolve minor software issues causing drift.
Calibrate the Joy-Con Sticks
Recalibrating the Joy-Con analog sticks can sometimes fix drift. Go to System Settings → Controllers and Sensors → Calibrate Control Sticks. Follow the onscreen prompts to calibrate each Joy-Con stick. Move and hold each stick in the requested pattern to reset the neutral position.
Clean Under the Joy-Con Stick Caps
Over time, dust, dirt, and debris can build up under the caps of the Joy-Con sticks, interfering with the sensors. Use a can of compressed air to blow out any particles from under the stick caps. You can also lift the caps up slightly using a toothpick and wipe clean the area underneath with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Replace the caps and re-test the sticks.
If these quick fixes do not solve your drift issues, you may need to send the controllers to Nintendo for repair or replacement. Nintendo will repair most Joy-Con drift issues free of charge, even for controllers out of warranty. Contact Nintendo Support to start a repair request and they will walk you through the process. With some patience, you’ll be back to enjoying your Switch in no time.
How to Permanently Repair Joy-Con Drift Yourself
To permanently repair Joy-Con drift yourself, you will need to replace the analog stick module inside the affected Joy-Con. This requires disassembling the controller, removing the faulty module and soldering in a replacement part. While not an easy DIY task, it can save you money versus paying for professional repair or buying new Joy-Cons.
Gather the Necessary Tools and Parts
You will need a soldering iron, solder, tweezers, a Phillips head screwdriver, and replacement analog stick modules specific to your Joy-Con model (either left or right). These can be purchased from electronics parts suppliers online for between $5 to $15 each. Make sure to get the correct module for your controller’s make and model to ensure proper fit and operation.
Disassemble the Joy-Con
Follow video tutorials online to carefully disassemble your Joy-Con, keeping track of each screw and part. The analog stick module is located on the lower mainboard. Unsolder the three pins that secure the module to the board using a soldering iron. Gently pry off the old module with tweezers, being careful not to damage any surrounding components.
Install the Replacement Module
Position the new analog stick module on the board, lining up the three solder points. Apply a small amount of solder to reattach each pin, one at a time, securing the module in place. Double check that all solder joints are solid before reassembling the Joy-Con. Put all parts back together in reverse order, testing the new analog stick to confirm full range of motion and no drift before closing up the controller.
Test and Calibrate
Power on your Switch and update your Joy-Con to ensure it recognizes the new hardware. Go to the System Settings, select Controllers and Sensors, then Calibrate Control Sticks. Follow the on-screen prompts to calibrate your repaired Joy-Con. Test it out in a game to ensure the drift is eliminated before regular use. If issues remain, you may need to repeat the repair or consider professional servicing. With some patience, you can get your Joy-Cons working like new again.
Professional Joy-Con Repair Options
If your Joy-Con controllers are still malfunctioning after trying the DIY solutions, it may be time to consider professional repair options. Nintendo offers repair services for Joy-Con drift and other issues.
Nintendo Repair Service
You can send your Joy-Con controllers to Nintendo for diagnosis and repair. Fill out a repair request on Nintendo’s website and ship your controllers to them. The typical turnaround time is 1 to 2 weeks. Nintendo will either repair or replace the analog sticks or other components to fix the drift and ensure your Joy-Con are functioning properly again. There is a cost for out-of-warranty repairs which typically ranges from $30 to $50 per Joy-Con.
Local Repair Shops
Some electronics repair stores offer Joy-Con repair services. Search online for ‘video game console repair’ along with your location to find shops near you. Many are able to diagnose and fix Joy-Con drift issues, often for a lower cost than Nintendo’s repair service. However, the quality of work can vary between shops, so check reviews from other customers first. Ask if they have experience repairing Nintendo Switch controllers before taking your Joy-Con in for service.
Mail-In Repair Services
National mail-in repair companies like uBreakiFix and CPR Cell Phone Repair offer Joy-Con repair services. You ship your controllers to them, they will diagnose and fix the issues, then ship the repaired Joy-Con back to you. Turnaround time is typically 3 to 5 business days. They often charge between $30 to $50 per Joy-Con. Be sure to choose a reputable company with good reviews and ask about their experience with repairing Nintendo Switch equipment.
Professional repair is often the most effective solution if DIY options have not worked and you want to get your Joy-Con back in good working condition. While it may cost a bit, it can save you from having to purchase expensive replacement controllers. With regular use, professional servicing of your Joy-Con may also help prevent drift from recurring.
Preventing Joy-Con Drift – Tips to Extend Your Controller’s Life
To prevent Joy-Con drift and extend the life of your Nintendo Switch controllers, there are a few tips you can follow:
Handle controllers carefully
Your Joy-Con controllers contain sensitive components that can malfunction if handled roughly. Be gentle when attaching and detaching the Joy-Con from your Switch console and grip. Do not drop or throw the controllers. Place them on a soft, stable surface when not in use.
### Keep controllers clean
Build-up of dust, dirt, and debris on the analog sticks and under the joystick flaps can interfere with the sensors and cause drift. Gently wipe down your Joy-Con controllers regularly using a microfiber cloth to remove any contaminants. Isopropyl alcohol can be used to clean stubborn dirt or stuck-on debris. Ensure all parts are dry before using the controllers again.
Loosen the analog sticks
The analog sticks on the Joy-Con controllers move and can become stuck or stiff over time, leading to drift. Gently rotate and move the analog sticks in all directions to keep them loose. Be very careful not to use too much force, as this could damage the internal components.
Calibrate controllers regularly
Joy-Con drift is often caused by analog sticks that are out of calibration. Go to System Settings → Controllers and Sensors → Calibrate Control Sticks to recalibrate your Joy-Con controllers. Move the analog sticks in the full range of motion as indicated on screen. Recalibrating helps re-center the sticks and can fix minor drift issues.
Avoid third-party or used controllers
Non-OEM or pre-owned Joy-Con controllers may be lower quality or already have existing issues that can lead to drift. For the best performance and to minimize problems, use official Joy-Con controllers purchased new. Third-party controllers are not manufactured or tested to the same standards as Nintendo’s own products.
By properly handling, cleaning and maintaining your Joy-Con controllers and avoiding problematic third-party or used controllers, you can help prevent issues like analog stick drift and keep your Switch gaming experience running smoothly. Performing regular recalibrations of the analog sticks on your Joy-Con controllers can also help diagnose and remedy minor drift when it occurs.
In conclusion, you now have the knowledge and tools to repair Joy-Con drift and get your Switch controllers functioning properly again. By opening up the Joy-Cons to clean the analog sticks and contacts or replace worn out parts, you can save money and time instead of buying replacements. With some patience and the right techniques, drift will be a thing of the past and you’ll be back to enjoying your Switch games. Don’t let this frustrating issue sideline you for long – you have the power to fix it. Get your Switch back to peak performance and keep on gaming!