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How to Fix Xbox One Controller Drift

MUO 3/24/2023 Joshua Free
© Provided by MUO

Although Xbox One controllers are comfortable to hold and function as an ideal Xbox controller, with the design more or less being carried forward to Xbox Series X|S, the controllers are not without fault.

Xbox One controllers have stood the test of time, but much like many other gaming controllers, they are unfortunately subject to the most common issue with any gaming controller: stick drift.

And while stick drift is one of the most irritating things you can experience with a gaming controller, if your Xbox One controller is experiencing stick drift, there are a few methods you can use to troubleshoot and correct the issue. Let's take a look.

How to Troubleshoot Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S Stick Drift

Because of how similar both Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S controllers and systems are, when looking to troubleshoot your Xbox Wireless Controller stick drift, you can utilize the same methods for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S controllers.

But before you try to physically fix your Xbox Wireless Controller, you may want to troubleshoot the issue to see whether a software error is the actual cause of the stick drift. Luckily, the ways to do this are relatively simple.

Update Your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S Controller

One of the easiest ways to see whether a system error from either your Xbox controller or console is causing the stick drift is to update your Xbox controller.

By updating your Xbox controller, you ensure it is as up-to-date as possible and running off the latest potential patches for issues and glitches released by Microsoft. This would highlight whether an issue beyond a physical problem with your controller is actually causing the stick drift.

Luckily, updating your Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One controller is very simple and involves using the Devices & connections settings on either your Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One to access your console's Accessories.

Once you have used the Accessories options to update your controller or to see if an update is available, you should be able to tell straight away if an update has potentially fixed your stick drift. If not, there are still other ways to troubleshoot your Xbox Wireless Controller and its stick drift.

Reset Your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S Controller

Aside from updating your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S controller, if the stick drift has started suddenly, it's possible that something as simple as resetting your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S controller could fix the issue. To reset your Xbox Wireless Controller, follow these steps:

  • Ensure the Xbox controller you want to reset is connected to your Xbox One or Series X|S, and you are on the Home screen.
  • Hold the Xbox button at the center of the controller for around 5 seconds, and the Xbox button should go dark.
  • Once the Xbox button is off, leave your Xbox controller for a few seconds and then press the Xbox button once more to reconnect your controller to your Xbox.

With your Xbox controller reconnected you have successfully reset your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S controller. This method of troubleshooting, however, only really tells you if the stick drift issue is a temporary issue caused by a system error.

If your stick drift issues continue, it's possible a larger software fault is to blame, and you may need to reset your Xbox console. But before doing something that drastic, it's worthwhile attempting to physically fix the stick drift issues with your Xbox Wireless Controller.

How to Physically Repair Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S Stick Drift

While there are more obvious checks you can do on your physical controller, like changing the batteries or checking for visible damage, there are still multiple ways to correct the issue, even if there isn't an obvious fix.

Repair Your Xbox Controller Stick Drift With Compressed Air

One of the most common issues that may cause your Xbox One or Series X|S controller itself to have stick drift is the build-up of dirt within your controller, preventing an analog stick from functioning properly.

Unfortunately, the easiest way to fix this issue is to purchase a can of compressed air so that you can clean the cavity the analog stick sits in. This would hopefully free up any dirt that is potentially causing the stick drift issues.

Once you have a can of compressed air handy, you can attempt to fix the stick drift issues with your Xbox controller by following these steps:

  • Ensure your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S controller is turned off.
  • Place the air tube for the compressed air can near the base of the analog stick, and start to blow compressed air.
  • As the air hits the base and crevices of the analog stick, slowly move the stick around to free up any trapped dirt.

While it may take multiple attempts, the compressed air should be able to dislodge any potential obstructions causing the stick drift issues with your Xbox controller.

Fix Stick Drift by Taking Your Xbox One Controller Apart

If compressed air can't fix the stick drift issues with your Xbox controller, you may have to dismantle your Xbox One or Series X|S controller. Unfortunately, dismantling your Xbox controller is quite fiddly and could potentially further damage the controller if done incorrectly.

The process also voids any warranty for the controller, but if you want to attempt to replace your analog sticks or remove any blockages causing stick drift, you can dismantle your Xbox controller with these steps:

  • Ensure the Xbox controller is off and remove the left and right corner grips. You may need to use a prying tool.
  • Take the battery cover off the back of the Xbox controller and unscrew the hidden screw beneath the sticker with a T9 screwdriver.
  • With the same screwdriver, move along the grips of the Xbox controller unscrewing the two screws from each side.
  • With all the screws removed, you can take the casing off your Xbox Wireless Controller to reveal the internal parts.

Now the internal parts of your Xbox Wireless Controller are accessible, you should be able to see whether there are any blockages interfering with the analog stick mechanism, and you should be able to replace the stick altogether if you wish to.

You can also take the opportunity to clean your Xbox One controller. After all, a clean and well-maintained controller is less likely to develop faults in the first place and the internal parts are a nightmare for gathering dust and muck.

Keep Your Xbox One Controller Well-Maintained and Healthy

Hopefully, by following and trialing the above steps, you can attempt to fix the stick drift affecting your Xbox Wireless Controller. If the issue persists, you may have to replace the controller altogether, but stick drift is generally fixable, especially when analog sticks are easily replaced.

And as for other common issues you may experience with an Xbox controller, other simple quick fixes can help ensure your gaming experience with Xbox is well-maintained and ready to go.

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