How to fix PS4 Controller Drift?

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Owning a console is all ‘games and fun,’ quite literally until you start experiencing the set of problems that come along with it. One common issue that is on the rise amongst gamers is the drifting of the Controller, most commonly seen in the newer controllers. 

However, this does not mean that other older model controllers can not be subject to drifting. If you’re a PS4 owner, and in recent times, your Controller seems to be taking in inputs, even when you’re not touching it, it’s said to be drifting. In this post, we’ll discuss PS4 controller drift, why drifting in your PS4 Controller happens, and how you can fix it.

Why does the PS4 Controller Drift?

A fully functioning PS4 controller will have a 1-1 relationship between the current that is being signaled and the position of the analog stick. In the case of controller drift, some impediment causes the current value to alter when there is no voluntary changing of the stick position.

Whether your Controller just took the ‘great fall’ or it’s been your buddy for a long time, drifting is an issue that can occur due to multiple reasons. Below are a few most common reasons that cause PS4 Controller drift:

Good Old Wear And Tear

One of the most common reasons behind drifting by your Controller is the condition of your Controller.

The joystick component in the PS4 Controller is responsible for the longevity of the Controller; it has a lifecycle of 2 million inputs, which means it can operate just fine till then. The two million inputs, however, may come sooner for some gamers than later, depending on their gameplay and habit, so wear and tear is subjective to individuals and their gameplay. 

Loose Thumb Pads

Drifting can also be caused by loose thumb pads due to excessive usage or wear over time. To check if your Controller’s thumb pads are loose, gently shake your PS4 Controller and see if the thumb pads move in their position on their own and are wobbly. If they do, they are loose and either need to be replaced with new thumb pads or reinforced in their position by disassembling.

External Agents such as Dust, Oil, and Grime 

External agents such as dust, grime, and oil are one of the top culprits behind PS4 Controller drift.

If you leave your Controller out in the open for too long or if you eat while using your Controller without cleaning it occasionally, it is highly likely the analog stick will collect dirt on it and cause drifting on the console.


How to fix your PS4 Controller drifting?

Depending on what has caused your PS4 Controller to drift, you can try multiple solutions to fix the same. Below are the 8 fixes to help fix PS4 Controller drift.

Solution 1: Reset your PS4 Controller

Soft resetting is the first and the easiest fix to try controlling the drifting. To soft reset your PS4 Controller, follow these steps:

  • Log in with your second Controller and navigate to ‘Settings.’ 
  • Choose ‘Devices,’ and then choose ‘Bluetooth Devices.’
  • Navigate to the PS4 Controller that is drifting (also inactive) from amongst the list.
  • Press the ‘Options’ button on the controller and then select ‘Forget Device.’
  • Now, turn off the console. 
  • Next, connect the malfunctioning Controller to your console using a USB cable.
  • Reboot your PS4. Press the ‘PlayStation’ button and log in to PS4. The Controller that you connected with the USB will now be paired with the PlayStation. The soft reset is complete. Check to see if the issue persists.

If soft-reset does not work, you can try hard-resetting the PS4 Controller. Here is how:

  • Power down your console.
  • Using a paperclip, press the hole near the left shoulder button of the Controller for about 5 seconds.
  • This will hard-reset your Controller. To connect it to your PS4 again, follow the last two steps mentioned above in soft-resetting. You’ll notice a blue light that indicates that your hard-reset PS4 Controller has been paired with your console.


Solution 2: Update your Controller’s Deadzone Settings or Game Software

It is also possible that the drifting is occurring in only one game, and in that case, it is possible, the culprit is the game software and not the PS4 Controller. Check to see if the drifting occurs on other games; if not, update your game software that is facing the particular issue, and it shall hopefully solve the problem.

You can also tweak your PS4 Controller’s deadzone settings to get rid of drifting if the initial settings have somehow changed.

Solution 3: Clean your PlayStation 4 controller’s thumbsticks:

To clean your PS4 Controller using isopropyl alcohol, follow these steps:

  • Taking a cotton swab, soak the tips in alcohol and press them against the thumbsticks by the corners.
  • Keep turning the analog stick in different directions and make sure the swabs cover every bend and corner of the thumbsticks.
  • Repeat the process 3-4 times to clean the surface thoroughly.

Solution 4: Get your Controller repaired or fixed by Sony

If you’ve only recently purchased your PS4 console, there’s a chance that it’s still under warranty which you can claim to get a free replacement of your PS4 Controller. Check the warranty of your PS4 Controller by determining the date of purchase and the duration of the warranty.

Next, head to Sony Playstation’s official support page, and follow the instructions to claim your repair or replacement of the Controller. 

Solution 5: Compressed Air-Blow Technique

This technique works to remove debris from inside the Controller without having to disassemble it. For this, you’d require a compressed air can, which translates to concentrated blasts of compressed air into the Controller to get rid of dirt and debris from inside that is causing the drift.

So how does this work?

This is probably one of the easiest methods where you start with a can of compressed air, targeting the bottom of the analog sticks. Make sure that your Controller is powered off.

Spray bursts that last five to eight seconds only, and then repeat again after an interval of a few minutes in between each burst. In about 3-4 bursts, you shall have all the debris removed. Keep moving the analog stick in different directions simultaneously while blowing compressed air into the stick where it slots with the Controller. This ensures that the air hits all internal parts where there could be debris, disrupting the internal working of the Controller.

Once you’re done, dislodge the debris that surfaces before moving to another set of bursts. Make sure not to invert the can of air while spraying since that can liquefy the compressed air within. And, we all know how electric and liquid are a sinister match for any gadget (unless it’s waterproof, but your Controller certainly isn’t).

Now, turn on your console and your Controller to check if the drifting has been fixed.

Solution 6: Disassemble and Clean your PS4 Controller

If cleaning your PS4 Controller using compressed air or isopropyl alcohol hasn’t made the cut for you, it is highly probable that your Controller requires deep cleaning after disassembling it. To work around this fix, follow the following steps:

  • Use a T9 Torx screwdriver to remove the outer plastic body of your PS4 Controller. You can also use a T8 Torx screwdriver, however, make sure not to apply too much pressure since it can potentially sever the connection between the PS4 Controller and the motherboard.
  • Once you can view the motherboard, start by removing the small connection made on the top right side of the motherboard, which will disconnect it from the rest of the Controller.
  • Now, take out the top cover of the Controller and remove the thumb pads. Clean the module with either nailpaint thinner (it evaporates), or use a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water. 
  • Spray a lubricant, such as WD-40, which will break down the grease and oil, cleaning the analog module of dust and grime.
  • Assemble the Controller back and check to see if the drifting control issue has been fixed.

Solution 7: Replace loose or worn out thumb pads

We’ve already discussed how you can determine if your Controller’s thumb pads are loose. If they are, here is how you can replace them:

  • Disassemble your PS4 Controller using a T8 or T9 screwdriver.
  • Check the thumb pad positions and if they are anomalously placed.
  • Remove the anomalously placed thumb pads or the worn-out ones.
  • Place the new thumb pads in place of the old ones and reinforce them in their position.
  • Reassemble the Controller and check if it has fixed the drifting.

Solution 8: Replace the analog stick module with a new module

If you do not want to buy a replacement for your current PS4 Controller, and the problem lies in your analog stick, we suggest replacing the same with a new module. This will save you a few bucks. But, since it requires disassembling, we suggest you do not try this method if you’ve never fixed a controller before and still have a warranty left for your Controller (in which case, you should opt for Solution 4).

Follow the following steps to desolder the old analog stick and replace it with a new module:

  • The plastic of the Controller is an extremely fragile part of the Controller, so be cautious while removing it with a T8 or T9 screwdriver.
  • Unplug the battery and the battery plate on the motherboard and remove them.
  • Remove all other connections carefully from the Controller’s motherboard and, using a desoldering tool, remove the old analog module that is causing the drift.
  • Considering that you already have a new module with you, attach the same using a soldering tool. 
  • Assemble the PS4 Controller back intact and check if the drifting has been fixed.

If none of these solutions fix the drifting of the PS4 Controller, you may need to buy a replacement


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