Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Drift Repair – 3 Simple Fix

The Nintendo Switch debuted in 2017 and since its launch, various problems related to Joy-Con have arisen, the most annoying is certainly the one related to drift or driting. In today’s guide, we see 3 methods to solve this annoying problem that leads our characters to move by themselves on the screen without any movement input on the Switch controllers.

The Joy-Con Drift Problem

Anyone who has a Nintendo Switch will most likely have encountered, at least once, the annoying problem of seeing the characters move by themselves on the screen, the first time I saw Mario and Link move independently I got worried and so I ran to find out. After some research I came across the problem of drift and therefore I wanted to investigate the matter further, finding dozens of methods online to solve it, some of which are really not very useful or even harmful.

The Joy-Con Drift Problem

The Joy-Con drift problem is linked to a hardware defect of the controller analog sticks which, after several hours of use, tend to send non-existent inputs (in the PC world we speak of ghosting) which lead to involuntary movements on the screen.

This phenomenon can be more or less frequent and accentuated. In the first few months, I only noticed a slight and infrequent tendency of my Joy-Con to move to the right, but over the last few weeks, the movement has become practically constant, so much so that it is impossible to play. So I decided it was time to fix the Switch JoyCon automatic movement issue.

How to fix Joy-Con drift?

Inquiring on the web I found dozens of methods to solve the problem, I tried many and I came to the conclusion that there are few valid systems to solve. I have decided to collect the main methods to solve the age-old problem of Nintendo Switch drift and I have decided to propose them in the order that I consider most suitable, try them as you find them below, and at each step check if you managed to solve the problem if not, proceed to the next point. Of course, if you’ve just bought the console or it’s still under warranty, you can contact Nintendo support directly.

1 – Recalibrate the Joy-Cons

Recalibrate the Joy-Cons

If you’re really lucky, the problem could only be software, although it’s quite unlikely, and therefore fixable by a software update and a recalibration of the controllers. So I suggest you update the firmware of the controllers:

  1. Open System Settings (the gear icon ) from the Home menu
  2. Scroll down until you find the Controllers and Sensors menu
  3. Now press on Controller update and proceed

At this point you can try to recalibrate the Joy-Con, this operation allows you to realign the functioning of the analog sticks. Proceed as follows to calibrate the Joy-Con :

  1. Remove the controllers from the Nintendo Switch body
  2. Navigate to System Settings from Home
  3. Scroll down and select Controllers and Sensors
  4. Select the Controller Calibration item
  5. Click the stick you need to recalibrate to one side and follow the on-screen instructions

2 – Clean the Joy-Con sticks

If the recalibration hasn’t brought any good results, you can proceed with cleaning the controller sticks. To clean the Joy-Con you have two alternatives:

  • use a cotton swab dipped in 70% isopropyl alcohol and with this go and clean the base of the analog stick by turning it in order to get the alcohol into the lower part
  • Alternatively, you can use a contact cleaner spray and spray it directly onto the analog stick and spin it around

3 – Add a shim to the back of the stick

Add a shim to the back of the stick

If you can’t solve it with the first two methods, all you have to do is open the controller to make a small, very simple change to the Joy-Con hardware structure by inserting a paper shim.

The hardware problem underlying the Joy-Con drift is related to the failure of the base of the analog stick due to prolonged use of the controllers. The metal base that supports the stick tends to yield over time and this leads it to have contact with the underlying parts and less precision in the input phase, so as to generate the phenomenon of ghosting and non-existent inputs.

This matter can be solved by disassembling the Joy-Con and inserting a square of paper (you can use a card or a business card) at the base of the analog sticks in order to restore the initial thickness and bring the controller base closer to the components of the stick.

To proceed you will need a Y00 screwdriver with a Tri-Wing tip to be able to open the controllers, there are also many on Amazon and they cost less than 10 euros and a small Phillips screwdriver.

At this point proceed as follows:

  1. Remove the 4 screws located on the back of the Joy-Con
  2. Open the case using a lever or a pick
  3. Disconnect the battery cable and remove it from its compartment
  4. Using a #0 Phillips screwdriver remove the 3 plastic battery compartment screws
  5. Remove the battery holder to free the base of the analog stick, the metal square
  6. At this point, you can use a can of compressed air or contact cleaner spray to give the controller a clean
  7. Now take the cardboard and cut it out to the same size as the metal base of the Joy-Con
  8. Carefully place the card over the metal base and proceed to close the controller
  9. During the disassembly operations, you may also take the opportunity to replace the battery

How to increase the battery life of the Nintendo Switch

Conclusions and 2 final tips

In 99% of cases, this “cardboard” procedure solves any problem related to drifting, personally, I suffered from the problem on only one of the two controllers but I preferred to put the card on both so as to avoid having to go back to work in the future.

In case this solution didn’t work either, you still have two solutions :

  • you can buy an analog stick replacement kit and, following the iFixit guide, go and completely replace the stick to solve the root problem. Replacement thumbsticks are cheap and are definitely worth a try

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