Nintendo isn’t the only company out there with joystick drift issues. JoyCons might be the highest profile controller to suffer from drift, but Sony’s PS5 controllers can experience a similar plight. If your PS5 characters are moving on their own, there are some steps you can take to fix the drift.
What is stick drift?
Stick drift is when your controller’s analogue joysticks think an input is being made even when you aren’t moving the stick at all. You’ll notice this issue right away, since game menus and characters alike will move on their own. It’s frustrating, and makes many games unplayable.
There isn’t one root cause of stick drift. In some cases, the analogue stick might become loose, and cause the sensors to think it’s tilted when it isn’t. In other cases, dirt and debris can get trapped in the stick, resulting in a similar error. In the worst case scenarios, different parts of the joystick wear out from use, which causes them to fail, and tricks your controller into thinking the sticks are moving when they aren’t.
How to fix stick drift on your PS5 controller
If you’re experiencing drift on your PS5 controller, there are a few troubleshooting steps that might restore your analogue stick to normal.
Let’s start with the simplest: If the issue is software-based, try resetting the controller. Turn off your PS5, flip over your controller, and hold down on the tiny button next to the Sony logo (you’ll need something thin enough to reach the button, like a SIM card tool). Turn on your PS5 again and reconnect the controller. You could also try updating the controllers from Settings > Accessories > Controllers > Wireless Controller Device Software.
Unfortunately, stick drift is often not software-based. If the issue is dust and debris trapped in the sticks, you need to clean them. While Sony doesn’t recommend using solvents to clean your joysticks, users have reported successful results using rubbing alcohol, since the alcohol will simply evaporate. As seen in this YourSixStudios’ walkthrough, you can use a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean debris away from the sticks, and even use a toothpick to lift the sticks up to clean hard to reach areas. Just be careful when doing so not to poke any vital electronic components.
Alas, your joysticks might simply be worn out, an issue highlighted by iFixit, which notes some modern joysticks rely on parts that wear out way too quickly. Two parts particularly prone to wear and tear are the pieces that tell the console where the analogue stick is positioned at any given time, as well as the one that sets a neutral spot for your joystick (that is, the piece that tells the controller when the analogue stick isn’t in use). If one or both of these parts have had it, you’ll likely experience some drift.
Sony will fix your PS5 controller’s stick drift (if you’re still under warranty)
If the parts are worn out, the repair becomes quite a bit more complicated. If you have experience with soldering, you might be able to work on it yourself. But if the controller is still under the original year-long manufacturer’s warranty, you’re better off sending the controller to Sony for repair. According to IGN, you can call a help number to start the process, but you can also start a repair ticket from Sony’s website. Once they receive the controller, it takes seven to 10 business days to work on it, so it might take some time before you see it again.
If the controller is out of warranty or you don’t feel like waiting that long, try taking it to a local repair shop. They will likely be able to identify the issue and determine whether it’s worth the cost to fix.
Hopefully, the next time console manufacturers make a controller, they’ll use better parts, and leave stick drift behind for good.