If you play a lot of Xbox One®, you’ve probably heard about controller drift, which causes your character to move around the screen completely on their own. If you aren’t familiar with it, imagine playing Call of Duty® and trying to escape the enemy, then watching your avatar run into danger on their own. This is frustrating and can make games nearly impossible to play.
At Asurion, our experts help millions of customers get the most out of their tech and resolve their device problems, like finding the best gaming monitors or repairing an Xbox that won’t turn on. Here’s their guide on how to fix Xbox One controller drift—and what causes it.
What is Xbox One controller drift?
Your Xbox One controller has two analog sticks, or joysticks, that allow you to do a variety of things while you play. Usually, they work exactly how they’re supposed to. But when analog stick drift occurs, objects you’re controlling will move across the screen even when you’re not touching any buttons.
Why does my Xbox One controller drift?
If your Xbox controller is broken and you’re experiencing joystick drift, there are a few possible causes. One is something as simple as low batteries. A more common cause is dust or debris inside your controller. Over time, that grime can build up and affect the electrical components.
Analog stick drift can also be caused by damage to your controller, either from someone dropping it or excessive wear and tear. The potentiometer, a part connected to the joystick that’s responsible for sending movement signals to your console, is an especially sensitive piece—a broken or defective one is likely to result in this issue.
How to fix Xbox One controller drift
Before you start searching for how to take an Xbox One controller apart, try these simple game console repair steps to fix joystick drift.
Reset your Xbox One controller
This is more of a restart than a full reset, but it could still resolve your issue. Press and hold the Xbox button on the controller for 5-10 seconds until it turns off. Wait a few seconds, and then press and hold the Xbox button again to turn it back on.
Replace the batteries
Slide off the back cover of the controller and replace the AA batteries with two fresh ones. If you have a reusable battery pack, charge your controller until it’s at full power.
Clean your Xbox One controller
First, disconnect and turn off your controller by pressing the Xbox button for 5-10 seconds. Then apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to a cotton swab or soft cloth and wipe the analog stick, especially at the base. Move the stick around as you clean so you can cover more area. Repeat this process for the other analog stick. Before moving to the next step, wait for the alcohol to completely dry.
To clean your Xbox controller using canned air:
Compressed air should help clear out any debris that’s causing controller drift. One important tip: Always keep the can level when spraying the joysticks as turning it sideways could send moisture into your controller and cause further damage. Here’s what else you should do to clean it safely:
- With the controller off, press one analog stick as far as it will go in one direction and then spray the compressed air into the stick base on the opposite side.
- Slowly roll the stick around while continuously spraying the base with air.
- As you spray, try gently pulling the analog stick up or pressing it down while you push it all the way to one side. This can help create space for the air to enter.
- Repeat this process with the other analog stick.
Even if your controller is working properly, spraying it with compressed air about once a month will help keep it clean and prolong its life.