The Nintendo Switch, has been out for over two years now and while it is clearly an excellent little piece of hardware it can have some problems with Joy-Con drift. Your Switch will act as if the Joy-Con analog stick is receiving input even when you aren't engaging it. This means you'll see characters on-screen slowly moving about all on their own accord. This can be a truly frustrating experience and can have detrimental effects on your gameplay. We've listed some things you can do to fix it.

Products used in this guide

Replacement stick: Veanic 3D Joystick ($11 at Amazon)

Protective Case: Nintendo Switch Carrying Case ($18 at Amazon)

A new pair: Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons ($67 at Amazon)

Controller Drift Solutions

But why is this happening?

The issue seems to come from the fact that the analog sticks aren't a completely isolated environment. After some frequent use, dust and grime can build up inside the sticks, which then can have a negative impact on the contacts within. Many other controllers with analog sticks can be subject to the same problem but it seems as if the Switch is uniquely vulnerable to it. Perhaps the contacts within are extra sensitive or maybe it's because the Switch is made to be taken on the go and that gives it more opportunity to come in contact with contaminants.

Whatever the reason, it's something that nearly everyone is going to want to fix when it starts happening to them.

How to fix it with compressed air

OK, enough chitter chatter! You have a drifting analog stick and you want to fix it. Here's what you should try!

  1. Identify which analog stick is giving you problems and pull it to one side

  2. Underneath you will see that there is a small skirt of rubber which is there in an attempt to keep dust out. Using a small screwdriver or something flat, gently lift the rubber skirt.

  3. Using a can of compressed air or electronic contact cleaner, give your stick a cleansing blast in the opening.

It's probably a good idea to blast air from a few different angles in order to give your self the best chance of dislodging any particles of dust that are giving you trouble.

How to conduct a system update on the controllers

It's possible your controllers just need an update. Here's how to make that happen:

  1. From the main menu go to System Settings and click on Controllers and Sensors.

  2. Scroll down to Update Controllers.

  3. If the controllers are already up to date a message will pop up saying so. Click OK. If you didn't get this message continue to the next step.

  4. The controllers will update with the latest firmware.

  5. A message will pop up reading Update Complete. Click OK.

How to recalibrate your Joy-Cons through software

You can recalibrate your Joy-Con analog sticks through the software if the canned air did not work. Here's how to do that:

  1. Go to your Nintendo Switch system settings and scroll down to Controllers and Sensors.

  2. Select Calibrate Control Sticks.

    Nintendo Switch Joy-Con  system settings

  3. Press down on the stick that you want to calibrate.

    Nintendo Switch Joy-Con select your analog stick

  4. If your joystick is behaving normally, you should see a green cross in the middle of the crosshair. If it shows a circle or if the cross isn't in the center click the X button to calibrate.

    Nintendo Switch Joy-Con check analog stick working

  5. A message pops up warning you to only recalibrate if something is wrong with your joystick. Click Calibrate.

  6. What follows are several instructions for you to complete. First maneuver the joystick towards the green triangle and release when it changes color. This will repeat a few times. This can be tricky if there is something wrong with your joystick. If it proves too difficult, exit by pressing the B button.

    Nintendo Switch Joy-Con calibration process

  7. Next it will ask you to rotate the sick. Follow the direction it indicates.

  8. A message will pop up stating Calibration complete. Click OK.

DIY fix by replacing the analog stick

If you have tried using the canned air method above, recalibrated the Joy-Cons through the system software, and you're still experiencing Joy-Con drift, then you may need to replace the analog sticks themselves. There are some cheap options available on Amazon, such as this one from Veanic, but keep in mind that this may void your warranty.

We'd recommend checking out this video from TronicsFix on how to replace your Joy-Con analog sticks.

How to prevent it from happening!

If you haven't had this issue yet and you would like to try to avoid it, or if you had it and don't want it again, there are a few things you can do to try to keep it from happening.

  1. One suggestion is to make sure that you are using your Switch with clean hands. This may seem obvious but if you have young ones playing on your Switch, they don't always remember to cleanse the Cheeto dust before they start playing.
  2. If you are taking your Switch on the go, I would absolutely recommend a case. If you are just tossing your Switch into a backpack without a case, it is entirely possible that your sticks will be subject to collecting some particulates that will have you facing controller drift. You can pick up a killer nylon hard case from Amazon that will keep your Switch safe and clean for only $17. For more options, check out this article on the best Nintendo Switch cases.

Little issues like this can be incredibly frustrating. There have been times when I had a controller stopped working as it was intended and I sure did want to toss it across the room. Hopefully, these tips will help keep you in the game and frustration free!

Joy-Con warranties and sending them back for repairs

If the defective Joy-Con came with your Switch, it has a one year warranty from the date of purchase. If you bought it separately from the Switch, the warranty is only 90 days from the date of purchase. If you're still within the warranty time, contact Nintendo's customer support and see if they can repair it. If your controller is past its warranty, you might just need to buy a replacement, like these Gray Joy-Cons.

The Replacement

Veanic Replacement Joystick

A replacement joystick for your Nintendo Switch Joy-Con

This replacement joystick comes with a "Y" Tri-wing screwdriver, a cross screwdriver, tweezers, and pry tools to help you make replacing the part easier. It also comes with two analog caps that you can place on your joysticks to make them respond faster during gaming sessions.

Official Travel Case

Nintendo Switch Carrying Case

A protective carrying case for your Nintendo Switch

This hard shell travelling case comes with a plastic game card case that can hold up to four games. It also features two micro SD card cases,so you can have as much memory on you as you want. Store these cases in the inner, mesh-zipper pocket.

New Controllers

Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons - Gray

Brand new Joy-Cons for the Nintendo Switch

This package contains both the right and left Joy-Con controller. It also features two Joy-Con straps for undocked play. The battery life lasts up to 20 hours so you'll have plenty of time during gaming sessions. They feature rumble, amiibo support, and motion controls to enhance your gaming experience.

Additional products to help with controller issues

If you need more than one replacement joystick or if you'd prefer a new controller altogether, here are the products we recommend most.

Veanic 2-Pack Replacement Joysticks ($15 at Amazon)

If you need to replace both of your joysticks or if you'd simply prefer to have an extra joystick handy, consider purchasing this 2-pack. It comes with four thumbstick caps, a cross screwdriver, a "Y" screwdriver, a prying tool, and tweezers to help make the replacement process easier.

PowerA Enhanced Wireless Controller ($45 at Amazon)

This wireless controller is a perfect replacement for defective Joy-Cons. It features motion controls and additional buttons on the backside to enhance your gaming sessions. Choose from one of six different colors and themes to get the look you like best.

Pro Controller ($57 at Amazon)

This is the mother of all Nintendo Switch controllers. In addition to having a battery that lasts up to 40 hours, it features motion controls, HD rumble, and built-in amiibo functionality. Should the battery get low you can plug in a USB cable and keep playing. Its joysticks and buttons are larger than the ones on the Joy-Cons making them easier to use.

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