6 Tips on How to Fix Joy-Con Drift Issue



Category: Game Howtos

how to fix joycon drift

The Nintendo Switch is a pretty popular console that offers portability, versatility and a wealth of popular titles for fans to enjoy. Nevertheless, the console is plagued by a persistent issue. You may have to learn how to fix joy-con drift to get around the misalignment that eventually occurs after prolonged use. After all, the removable joy-con controllers will get compromised to affect the accuracy of user input.

Fortunately, Nintendo instituted policy changes in 2019 and offered free repair of drifting joy-con controllers with plenty of leeways in terms of the warranty. Nevertheless, the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite have not seen design alterations to prevent the issue. Consequently, this article will come in handy to help you fix the analog sticks. But, first, let us discuss why the problem exists in the first place.


Defining the Joy-Con Drift Issue

The joy-con drift issue has been a thorn in the side of gaming enthusiasts who can put in a few hours each day on their Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite. Typically, after using the removable controllers, they start to notice their the console is not responding correctly to user input. Additionally, it may be that characters in-game move when the player is not touching the analog sticks or the incredibly frustrating camera pan that unexpectedly takes you away from the action.

As the pandemic raged on, more people found themselves stuck at home with their games keeping them entertained. As the gaming industry experienced rapid growth, more Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite and Switch OLED owners became privy to the joy-con drift issues. Although the console manufacturer continuously makes improvements to create quality products, the problem has been a mainstay in the Nintendo gaming circles, and lawsuits have followed. Eventually, through president Shuntaro Furukawa, the company issued an apology to quell the dissatisfaction among loyal Nintendo enthusiasts.

Nevertheless, Switch owners have options that may create a permanent fix for the joy-con drift issues. We have compiled four ways you can take a crack at the problem and get back to having fun minus contending with wrong inputs. Plus, whether or not you have the tools or budget, we have simple tips to help get your Nintendo Switch joy-con working well.

Fixing Drifting Joy-Con on Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite

If you do not consider yourself particularly handy, you can have Nintendo fix your joy-cons. In the first tip, we shall cover how you can go about the process and the requirements that go with it. Still, since the pandemic hit, the time it would take to have your joy-cons fixed and back in your possession may be lengthy. Consequently, try the other fixes before sending it out if you want to get back to gaming sooner rather than later.

Moreover, the left joy-con controllers tend to experience the issue more prominently than the right because it is often used in gameplay and menu selection. As a result, you may notice players moving without your input long before the view starts panning on its own. In any case, the tips here should help you fix your joy-cons.

Furthermore, there is no consensus on what causes the joy-con drift issue. Some Nintendo Switch owners think the problem stems from a buildup of dirt inside the mechanism, particularly where there is the rubber skirt. Ironically, this controller part is meant to keep dust away from the internal components. Unfortunately, when there is plenty of debris here, the joy-con begins drifting.

On the other spectrum, some Switch owners have attempted to self-repair their controllers once they noticed the issue. On disassembling the Switch joy-cons, they found the contacts had worn down. Admittedly, it is difficult to pinpoint the origin of the issue without Nintendo letting the gaming community know.

1. Calibration of Joy-Cons

Calibration refers to correlating an instrument's readings with a standard to determine whether it is still accurate. This process is key in the other solutions we have outlined, so learning it will help speed up the other processes. In addition, this method tends to yield positive results, especially when you catch the drift problems early.

The easy solution involves removing the joy-cons first then navigating to the System Settings of your Switch. Find Controllers and Sensors in the menu, then choose the option of "Calibrate Control Sticks." If you are handling the left joy-con first, applying pressure on the stick will select it.

Once you see the check screen, you can try wiggling the stick. Typically, you should see a small cross before touching the controller, turning into a blue dot with user input. However, a drifting joy-con will immediately turn the cross into a dot even when you are not moving it.

To begin the process, press X on the controller, then follow the prompt to know when and when to move the stick. Additionally, you will be asked to rotate the joy-con until you are done with the calibration. This simple fix will sort out mild drifting problems without forcing you to disassemble the analog stick.

2. The Clean Fix

As mentioned above, dirt, dust and debris clogging the rubber skirt could be the culprit causing the joy-con drift problems. Consequently, merely cleaning the joy-con controllers can serve to alleviate the issue. Plus, you should try this step if your analog stick is still not responding correctly after calibrating them.

The joy-con controllers feature similar construction, whether you have a Nintendo Switch Lite or the Nintendo Switch OLED. Therefore, you can expect to find a sensor underneath the stick's base. In most cases, cleaning this area goes a long way to fix joy-con drift. For this process, you will need the following.

  • Isopropyl alcohol.
  • A cotton swab or Q-tip.

The joy-con stick design features a silicone material for the knob at the top and a hard plastic immovable part at the bottom. These two pieces are connected through a handled-rotating sphere. Typically, dust and dirt can seep between the pieces and cause the joy-con drift. Consequently, you will need to clean the area to solve the problem.

Remove the joy-con controllers from your Nintendo console, then soak a cotton swab with the isopropyl alcohol. Next, turn the analog stick to one side to access the area where the silicone material overlaps the plastic one. Since the upper part is rubbery, you can gently use the cotton swab to access the underside.

Rub the isopropyl alcohol in while rotating the analog sticks to ensure that you get to the crevice effectively. Keep rotating for about half a minute to clean the sensors well. Once you are done, you can allow the area to dry off completely, usually in about 20 minutes.

Go to your System Settings and calibrate the joy-cons by pressing the X button on the control sticks. You can repeat this process every few weeks or whenever the problem occurs again. Unfortunately, the simple solution is not permanent as more dirt will eventually accumulate and cause the same issue.

It is never advisable to run liquids on circuitry, especially when a current flows through them. Some Switch owners might prefer to ensure the joy-con controllers are completely depowered before cleaning it. However, alcohol does not conduct electric current, so you should be pretty safe. Still, do not douse the analog stick as if you want to commit arson, so try some moderation.

3. Replace the Joy-Con Stick

Replacing your Nintendo Switch joy-con | Mah_Japan

Image Source: Flickr.com

If you have voided the original or extended warranty on your Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite joy-cons and the other methods do not work, you can take the radical option. Replacing the entire joy-con stick is affordable for most Switch owners, especially when you need a pair. If you feel sufficiently tech-savvy and are comfortably aware of the risks and consequences, you can try this method.

Furthermore, you can buy an analog replacement kit with all the necessary tools for disassembling your joy-con and reconnecting a new analog stick. In addition, this DIY fix requires a bit more than a basic knowledge of connecting electronics. Plus, Switch owners will not be able to use the Nintendo warranty afterward. Hence, you should try this method as a last resort.

Moreover, the process is pretty tasking, with care being paramount. You can find a complete guide here with pictures to follow along. Finally, this method is guaranteed to fix joy-con drift issues but do not forget to calibrate the controller afterward.

4. Buying New Joy-Con Controllers

Although not technically a joy-con drift fix, this option is pretty expensive as the price of new controllers is much higher than getting an analog stick replacement pack. Unfortunately, it is advisable to steer clear of a second-hand Nintendo Switch joy-con as it may have a similar issue or develop it a short while later. However, if you lack the expertise to replace the analog sticks and have a bigger budget, you can opt for this option.

5. Using Compressed Air

As mentioned above, cleaning out your controller can help eliminate the joy-con drift as particles within the analog mechanism could often be responsible. If you have a can of compressed air, you can blow out the particles and potentially restore the controllers to tip-top shape. Since it is similar to using isopropyl alcohol, you can decide the method you prefer between them.

Ensure you follow the compressed air instructions before you use it. Next, take the problematic joy-con and tilt the joystick to the side with your thumb. Afterward, point the end of the straw between the soft and hard layers at the base and gently pry it open to access the crevice. Release a couple of quick bursts before rotating the joystick as you repeat the process around it.

You can get a paper towel to wipe the area clean once you are done and leave the joy-con to dry. Additionally, ensure the batteries are empty before you begin to avoid moisture damage to the inner components. Finally, you can turn them on and calibrate them to ensure the joy-con drift is gone.

6. Add Padding to Increase Pressure in Joy-Con Casing

If you are comfortable opening up your joy-cons, you can try a popular solution found on VK's Channel on YouTube. After an interesting into-sequence, the video identifies a design flaw in the analog module that causes the inevitable issue. Albeit, this part comes after he debunks some of the tips we have highlighted here. So, although our recommendations work for most people, they may not be permanent.

Nevertheless, his paper method utilizes a small piece of cardboard or thick paper cut-out to ensure more stable contact in the analog module. From the comments, most people who keep re-experiencing the issue claim this is a more permanent joy-con drift fix. Feel free to try it out, as it is not as technically demanding as replacing a joystick.

Avoiding the Problem on a New Pair of Joy-Cons

If you have recently bought a Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite or Switch OLED, you can take steps to avoid the joy-con drift issues. Keeping your controllers clean is a sure way to stave off the problem for a long time. You can ensure you handle the joy-cons with clean hands whenever you play as a first step.

Hygiene is key, so you can snack and play your games but never concurrently. In addition, you should find a sealed case whenever you intend to travel or commute with the console. Merely dropping it in your bag will make it susceptible to dust and dirt. Plus, a decent case can keep the joy-cons protected from physical damage.

If you want to switch things up from your Nintendo to a different gaming platform, you can check out the cheapest or fairly-priced PC builds from us. Alternatively, you can try your hand at streaming with your streamer's go-to gear. Plus, you can check out popular headphones for creating a personal gaming experience.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Fix Joy-Con Drift Issues

1. How do I get rid of joy-con drift?

The joy-con drift issues may come from dust and dirt clogging the joystick module, an uncalibrated controller or insufficient contact within the analog component. First, you should calibrate the controllers before trying any cleaning fixes: either through isopropyl alcohol or compressed air. Then, if the issue persists, you can send it to Nintendo to replace the compromised joy-con, replace the stick yourself, use the paper method or buy a new pair of controllers.

2. Is Nintendo going to fix joy-con drift?

The Nintendo Switch joy-con drift problems are present in Switch Lite and Switch OLED owners. Unfortunately, as it is continuously making improvements while committing to creating quality products, the company has fallen short of client expectations to fix the drifting issues permanently. Nevertheless, if your warranty is still valid, you can go to their website and get them to repair it.

Featured Image Source: Flickr.com