6 Best Solutions on How to Fix Switch Controller Drift

Are your Nintendo Joy-Cons seemingly defective and you’ve been wondering how to fix Switch controller drift?

Read on and find out…

The Infamous Joy-Con Drift

Have you been playing on your Nintendo Switch and noticed that your character either is slowing moving in one direction without you pressing the Thumbstick on your controller or the camera angle of your game is shifting slightly?

This can be very annoying especially when you need precision control in a difficult part of a game, like trying to keep balance while walking in a narrow spot or trying to pull out a fighting move with a specific input combination, or when reading dialog and it changes before you even had the chance of finish reading it because it is activated by any controller input.

This is what they call “Joy-Con Drift”, whereas your controller Thumbstick is drifting in one direction when you are not touching it.

More and more people are affected by this little hitch, as it touches the first generation of the Nintendo Switch and their “Lite” version.

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Nintendo a few years back and the company has since then, put a plan into action to make things right, sort of speak. We will cover that a bit more, later on.

What causes Joy-Con Drift?

There can be numerous causes of the drifting. It could be software-related, you can have a defective controller, or even some dust/debris could have made their way inside the Joy-Con.

Can you Fix Switch Controller Drift?

The short answer is, yes.

If there is a will, there is a way and if you have been asking yourself how to fix Switch controller drift, luckily for us there are several different options that we can try, to resolve the issue once and for all.

Some solutions are easier than others and some won’t even cost us a penny.

We will explore the cheapest methods first, and if these haven’t resolved the problem, we have a couple of other means requiring additional purchases.

How to Fix Switch Controller Drift, the Cheapest Way as possible

There are 3 ways in which you can fix or have your controller fixed for free.

Here goes :

Recalibrate it

First off, you can calibrate your controller by following these steps:

  • Using your Nintendo Switch, go into your [System Settings].

  • In the menu on the left, scroll all the way down to [Controllers and Sensors].

  • On the right side scroll all the way down to [Calibrate Control Sticks].

  • You will be asked to press down on the analog stick you want to be calibrated.

  • After choosing the thumbstick to calibrate, this screen will be shown with the current position of the control stick on the X and Y-axis. Based on the position, there are two possible actions to take:

    1. When untouched, if the thumbstick is centered, then there is no issue and no need for recalibration and you can quit the calibration process.

      This does not necessarily mean that there is no drifting issue, it can be intermittent and still occur as you play, when moving the joystick around, in which case dust or debris could be the culprit. More on that later.

    1. Another possibility is that your controller is off-center, which would require recalibration.
      If that is the case, you can proceed to the next step.

  • On the next screen, you will be asked to move the thumbstick in the direction of the arrow, repeat until they covered all directions.

  • Finally, you will need to turn the analog stick clockwise two to three times.

Once that is done, you will get prompted that the calibration was a success, or not.

screenshot calibration system settings menu
screenshot calibration verification
screenshot calibration move stick direction
screenshot calibration rotate stick

Update the Controller

If calibrating the controllers did not work, then you can check and see if your Joy-Cons are up to date.

To do so, it will be the same path as doing the calibration.

Using your Switch go to [System Settings], then [Controllers and Sensors], but this time we will choose [Update Controllers].

If you are indeed due for an update, follow the on-screen instructions.
If not, then you will get a message saying that “All controllers are already up to date”.

Send it to Nintendo for Repair

If the last two options did not work for you, you have one remaining “cheap” solution to send your defective Joy-Con to Nintendo directly.

As I had mentioned previously, a couple of years back there was a Class-Action Lawsuit filed in the US against Nintendo for the drifting issue of their controllers.

Shortly after, the Nintendo Switch Lite was also experiencing drifting of their thumbstick and was then added to the lawsuit.

Now, early this year, Canada has joined the lawsuit party, filing a complaint and asking for compensation for their consumers.

Nintendo has assured us that the issue will be addressed. Now, a few years later Nintendo Switch owners are still getting the problem, even if they bought their Switch recently.

They were probably not aware of the problem or simply hoping that it would have been fixed by now, but no solution has been found at the moment, but they are working on it, as they take pride in their products and want to provide the utmost quality to their clientele.

For the time being, what Nintendo has offered is to repair or replace the defective controller free of charge, even if your product is out of warranty and you do not need to provide proof of purchase.

Usually, a repair would cost up to US$40.00 and they are offering it for free.

If we were to pay the repair cost, at that price it would be easier to simply buy a replacement Joy-Con, left or right, depending on which is defective as they are basically the same price.

To be entitled to the complimentary repair service, you simply need to go on the Nintendo website and open a ticket by answering a few questions.

To know more, please visit Nintendo’s website by clicking here.

Hands-On Options

How to Fix Switch Controller Drift with Compressed Air

A possible reason for your Joy-Con to malfunction is that dust or debris may have made their way into the casing and to get rid of it, we would need a can of air duster.

This can still be considered a “cheap” solution if you already have a can of compressed air duster, which is also called electronic contact cleaner. If you don’t, you can easily find one online or at a local hardware store for a reasonable price, depending on the brand used.

I believe it is always a good idea to clean your remotes periodically, see it as maintenance.

That way, we keep them clean, functional and avoid any possible issue caused by debris and it may help to avoid drifting.

So with your duster in hand, to clear your controller of dust or debris, you will need to attach the provided straw to the can, for precision cleaning and lift the joystick’s “skirt”, then just spray the dust away.

air duster straw under joystick skirt

Repeat the process by turning the thumbstick in every possible position to get it at every angle.

You can do this on the other half of your Joy-Cons if you wish.

Might as well dislodge any dust/debris that may have been collected under there, even though it is working just fine as we are simply preventing another potential drifting issue.

Fix Switch Controller Drift with Replacement Thumbstick Kit

This is where we get a hands-on approach on how to fix Switch controller drift, by replacing the defective part of your controller.

We can easily find replacement kits online that come in a variety of formats. Some include 1, 2, or even 4 replacement stick sensors, they usually come with a “Y” tri-wing screwdriver and “+” cross screwdriver repair tools, tweezers, replacement “Y” screws, and pry tools.

Price-wise it can be fairly cheap, it varies with the supplier or website on which you buy it from. Expect the pay between US$5.00 and US$10.00 for a kit of one or two thumbsticks.

You can come back to this article at another time, I will be adding the step-by-step instructions on how to replace one of those analog sticks by yourself.

If you think you should not be doing this, then you do not have to. This solution is more for DIYers.

What should be your last resort in order to Fix Switch Controller Drift?

When all other options have failed, either from you not having the skill or not taking the risk of repairing it yourself or don’t want to go through the trouble of shipping it out and waiting for it to come back, you have one remaining thing you can do.

Although it is not the ideal scenario, you can simply buy a new pair of Joy-Cons and hope that the issue does not appear after some time.

If you do not have sufficient funds to buy an “official” replacement by Nintendo, I have seen that you can buy either a left or right controller in some stores, depending on which one you need. That way, you would save half the cost of buying new pair.

But like I had said before, even if you replace them, it STILL IS a possibility that it will happen again, hopefully not, but the design of the product itself has not been revised by Nintendo, so you are buying the same product that became defective after a certain amount of time.

You can also look into buying a third-party controller, they do the same job as the regular ones, one pair of those controllers can be about half of the cost of the Nintendo brand and you can find several of them online, you simply need to research them a bit and base your decision on the product’s reviews.

Buying a third party can be good as the companies may have addressed the drifting issue and corrected it through their design. You just need to dig a little online and see if drifting is an issue on that specific model as well.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, these tips will have helped you to fix Switch controller drift issues and you can resume your gaming posthaste.

So now you can enjoy and game on.

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6 Best Solutions on How to Fix Switch Controller Drift

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