How to fix PS4 controller analog stick drift

Throughout their lives, video game controllers like the PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 are put through abuse. Most are subject only to intense gameplay, but others sometimes wound up getting dropped or thrown. And when the stress gets to be too much, these controllers may start experiencing stick drift. There are a number of causes behind PS4 analog drift, but there are only a few ways to fix it. Here’s what you need to know.

PS4 Controller | How to fix analog stick drift

PS4 Controller - How to fix analog stick drift

Analog stick drift on a PS4 controller can happen for a few reasons. The most common cause of controller drift is dirt or debris inside the joystick housing. Analog drift can also be caused by intermittent wireless connections and software issues.

If your PS4 controller’s analog stick is drifting, the best fix is to clean it. Fortunately, this is a very simple process that usually only requires some canned air.

  1. First, disconnect and power down the DualShock 4
  2. Use the canned air to blow in and around the affected analog stick
  3. Move the joystick around, clicking the analog stick inward, while spraying air around all of the edges

With any luck, blasting the stick with canned air will dislodge any piece of debris that may be causing erratic analog stick movement. Even something as small as a piece of dust can affect joystick motion, resulting in inaccurate or uncontrollable movement in games.

What if canned air doesn’t work?

If canned air doesn’t do the trick, it’s time for some troubleshooting. Analog sticks can sometimes drift in specific games, so test another one to make sure it’s not just happening in one game. If it is just one game, try either updating the software or, if possible, adjusting the controller’s dead zone settings. It may be that a simple dead zone tweak can get rid of the problem.

It’s also possible that there’s an intermittent connection between your PS4 and DualShock 4 controller. Fortunately, this is a simple fix. All you need to do is press and hold the reset button on the back of the controller. After that, plug it back into the system and sync it. That should fix any wireless connection problems.

If neither of these do the trick, then your controller likely needs a deep cleaning. Canned air just won’t cut it; you’ll need to take it apart and clean out the joystick connections. This is an advanced fix, since the controller has many small parts and delicate cables. Still, it only requires a few basic tools (specifically Torx bits) as well as household items such as cotton swabs. To learn more about how to disassemble and clean a DualShock 4, check out this YouTube video from the crew at How-FixIt.

PlayStation 4 controller analog stick drift can usually be fixed with a simple cleaning. A blast of canned air should do the trick, but if your controller is filthy, disassembly may be required. Of course, if you’ve been dropping or throwing your DualShock 4, analog drift may simply be the result of abused hardware. In that case, a replacement is probably in order.