If you’re having problems with the analog sticks on your controller and you wish to solve them. Then this is the article for you and if you’re someone who isn’t comfortable fixing things. Because I’m going to show you how to fix PS4 controller drift with 6 methods. Starting with the least complex solutions and then working on up to complicated solutions.
You should start with number one on the list. If that doesn’t work move on to the next one until you get to the point where you no longer feel comfortable performing the things I’m suggesting as with any kind of repair.
There are some risks involved I will state these risks along the way and give you tips on how to minimize them. These methods should work on most modern controllers. But I’m going to be focused on the Dualshock 4 Sony’s most problematic controller ever.
How PS4 Controller Sticks Work
We need to get a basic understanding of how the sticks work. Under each stick is two potentiometers and inside each one is a wheel. When you move the stick this wheel moves and the combined positions of both wheels are relayed to the game to indicate what needs to move and by how much. Problems can occur when debris gets down into the potentiometers and the areas around them.
So getting that stuff cleaned out should resolve the issue for a lot of you. Most of the solutions I’m about to show you are going to be various ways to clean those areas. I predict about 85% of you will be able to get things fixed by doing some of the cleaning methods.
Now I will say some sticks are just worn or defective. Where the cleaning methods will not work. You won’t really know until you attempt the cleaning. There is still hope though as you can replace the parts. I’ll show you how to do that in a little bit we’ll continue now with some ways to clean the components that don’t involve taking the controller apart.
How Debris Affects The Wheels Under The Stick
Each wheel has a metal bump on it. When you move the wheel that bump travels along a trace that is semi-resistant to electrical current. Current travels through that bump and through the trace and depending on where the bump is on the trace it’ll change the value of that current. That value is what tells the system how to move in the game.
The problem is that this trace gets dirty very easily. When that happens the value of the current gets messed up. So cleaning the trace will help. In some cases, though the trace itself is actually damaged from the bump scraping up against it. In those cases cleaning the trace will obviously not help but replacing the parts will.
Also Read: Best Games Like Roblox You Love To Play
6 Ways To Fix PS4 Controller Drift
Method 1: Return The Controller To The Retailer
Simply return the controller to the retailer that you bought it from. Pretty self-explanatory.
Method 2: Return The Controller To The Manufacturer
The second method is to return the controller to the manufacturer. Sony has a one-year warranty on the DualShock. You’ll have to have proof of purchase and you’ll have to send it away.
Here’s the link for Sony’s America warranty site for controller returns. It has all the details!
Method 3: Adjust The End Game Settings
You can adjust the end game settings for the controller. If your problem is that something is moving when it’s not supposed to be. Adjust the dead zone settings if your game has them. If you’re playing on steam then the actual steam system menu has those settings.
If your problem has to do with sprinting. Then some games have options to turn on auto sprint. R2 toggle sprint on and off and those settings may help your problem.
Method 4: Blow The Shaft
Method four is to blow into the shaft beneath the stick that’s having the issue. First, clean out the outside area around the shaft. There’s normally a lot of dirt underneath there. Then find a way to blow air around the sticks.
One way would be to use canned air. You don’t want to tilt the can it can spray liquid inside the controller. Another way is to use a straw to blow into the shaft. Try blowing along the outside edge and also try sticking the straw inside a little bit. Don’t bend the straw or else the air will not get through it.
Whenever you’re blowing into a straw you’re going to blow moisture through it. So I suggest afterward, try to air it out with a hairdryer to evaporate the moisture. Just make sure the hairdryer has a cold setting you don’t want to blow hot air into your controller.
In fact, if your hairdryer is powerful enough you can use that to blow down into the controller instead of using canned air or your breath.
Method 5: Suck Debris Through The Shaft
Method five is to suck debris through the shaft. Yes I know it sounds dirty but this method is a tad riskier than method four. Not only could moving the debris around make it worse if you get too crazy with the sucking you could suck a component out of place like a wire or something.
How to carefully do it? take a vacuum cleaner attachment and ever so slightly suck around the stick. Use the lowest level of suction if your vacuum cleaner has suction control. Don’t use full suction just suck a little bit.
Method 6: Use Electronic Contact Cleaner To Clean The Shaft
Method six is to spray electronic contact cleaner into the shaft. It has some drawbacks to this. First, contact cleaner is expensive and second, there are a lot of them on the market. So it’s possible you may end up with some low quality stuff that’ll make matters worse.
I haven’t tested this method enough so do it at your own risk. If you do then make sure it’s specifically labeled as electronic contact cleaner don’t use regular WD-40 or something like that. WD-40 does make a contact cleaner though just read the labels before you buy anything.
Method 7 involves taking the controller apart and blowing, sucking, or spraying the components housing the stick. Also, little boxes that house the wheels.
Be warned as with taking apart any electronic device there’s a chance you may break something. I’m going to do my best to point out the things that can go wrong and how to keep them from going wrong.
How To Take Apart Your Controller
Remove The Screws
- First, you need to remove the four screws. If you get a stubborn screw that doesn’t want to turn. Then you can end up stripping the screw.
I suggest you put one drop of water on top of each screw and just let it soak for a while. The screw holes don’t lead directly to any electronics so one drop isn’t going to harm anything. Also, give the screws a little bit of a tap.
Take Halves Apart
- Once the screws out you need to pry away the two halves. The two halves are kept together with very strong tabs inside. When you take the two halves apart you may break one or more of those tabs.
They’re in there very tightly but breaking them does not have an adverse effect. You’ll still be able to screw the controller back together.
Before you start separating just know there’s a ribbon cable that connects the two halves. So as you separate them don’t pull them too far apart and yank that out.
Pull The Ribbon Cable
- Now you need to pull the ribbon cable out. Pull on the small little strip straight and up. It’s fragile so take your time with it. When you pull it out try to remember which way the metal contacts were facing. Since when you reassemble it you’ll need to put it in the right way.
Remove The Battery
- Next, remove the battery wire connector it’s two pieces of plastic that need to be separated. It’s extremely tight so try pinching it with your fingers and pull straight up. If you rock it back and forth as you’re pulling it out that’ll help too.
Set the battery aside and remove the battery holder. For some of you, the battery holder is held on with a screw. If so remove the screw and the holder will just come off.
Disconnect Another Cable
- Next, there’s another cable you’ll need to disconnect. Some of you will have a tiny gate holding that cable in. Raise it and pull the cable out. If you don’t have the gate then just pull the cable out.
Note that this cable connects to the touch sensor on the touchpad.
Remove The Plastic Shell
- Next, you’ll need to remove the plastic shell from the circuit board. If there’s still a screw holding remove it. Push the analog sticks upward through the plastic.
Keep the half with the buttons on it face down and set it aside. If the option or share buttons fall out of it just put those back into place. Remove the two thumbsticks by just pulling them straight up. Give them a good cleaning.
Clean The Debris
Congratulations on making it into the controller you’re now ready to do some cleaning.
You’ll probably notice a lot of debris on the outside of the components. Clean it up by blowing or sucking. You can also use contact cleaner on all these components.
How To Put It Back Together
To test the controller we need to put all the components back together. Here’s how to do it
- Put the thumbsticks back on. Place the board back into the front plastic shell. Some of you will need to feed that ribbon cable through the tiny slot. It’s kind of a pain to do, so take your time and be patient.
- Attach the cable if you have the gate make sure it’s open as you’re placing the ribbon in and make sure you shut the gate once it’s in.
- If the trigger button came off put it back together it should snap right into place. If a spring also came off you’ll need to put that back into position first. There are tiny slots where it needs to go.
- Put the battery holder back on and put the screw back in. Now put the battery in the holder and reconnect the cable. It usually goes in pretty easily. If the reset button fell out just drop it into the hole.
- Next, put the two halves together but first, you’ll need to connect the ribbon cable between them. One side of the cable has metal traces on it. If your connector is tilted then metal traces on the cable need to face away from the battery as you push it into the connector. If your connector isn’t angled and it’s just perpendicular then the metal traces need to face the battery.
So put it back in and make sure it’s perfectly straight. Well, it’s very fragile so don’t force it too hard. You can test it before putting the four screws in.
So why are there so many people that have Dualshock 4 issues? Is it because there are just so many of these controllers in use out there. Is it a design issue, is it a factory issue or is it because we are logging more hours on analog intensive games than we used to. I think it’s all these.
Hopefully, these 6 solutions helped you out. If they did leave a comment and tell me which solution worked for you.