How to Fix Joy Con Drift

Tech Tips

Who doesn’t absolutely love their Nintendo Switch?! It combines all the amazing things about a portable gaming device and a home console. Unfortunately, the only downside to the Switch is the all-too-common Joy Con drift issue. This dysfunction has been a leading complaint about Nintendo’s top-selling gaming consoles. We know how annoying it can be to deal with drift in your controllers when you’re trying to enjoy a game. So, we set out to understand what exactly causes these control issues, and put together this list of 8 common Q&As that should show you how to fix your Joy Con drift for good.


What is Joy Con Drift?

Nintendo Switch Joy Con drift is one of the biggest issues plaguing Switch users across the world. Drift is when a controller seemingly moves around without the player touching the thumbsticks. Joy Con Drift can be very frustrating to gamers! It can lead to the camera randomly panning in different directions or non-instructed movements of characters in your game. There is nothing more annoying than setting down your Switch to grab a quick drink, then coming back to find your character on the wrong side of the map wandering aimlessly. 🤦🏻‍♀️


What Causes Joy Con Drift?

Joy Con drift can often be attributed to one of two major factors: Software/hardware issues or dirt & grime build-up. No matter the cause, drift can be down right infuriating to the point where you don’t even want to play on your Switch. Don’t let this issue take away your love for this amazing console. Keep reading to find out ways to fix your Joy Cons’ drift issue. 


What DIY Joy Con Drift Fixes Can I Try?

Whether a software issue or just dirt, we’ve put together a list of easy fixes for those of you who are experiencing Joy Con drift on your console. Below are a few things to try and get rid of that drift so that you are back up and gaming in no time.

1. Update Your Controllers:

 Sometimes drift in our Joy Con controllers can be due to a minor software issue. Thankfully, this can be addressed through a simple controller update. To do this, go to the setting menu on your Switch. Then, select “Controllers” and then choose “Update Controllers”. 

2. Recalibrate the Joy Con Thumb Sticks:

Another way to correct a minor software issue would be to recalibrate the thumbsticks themselves. This can be fixed by going to your Switch’s “System Settings” menu. Then, select “Controllers and Sensors and from there select “Calibrate Control Sticks” and follow the instructions given. 

3. Clean Your Joy Cons

The drift in your Joy Con could be due to natural build-up of dirt & grime inside of the thumbstick. As most of us are not console repair technicians, we do not advise you to take your controller apart to clean it. The easiest way to address this issue is by using compressed air. Compressed air cleaners can be found in the Electronics department of most stores. Follow the instructions given on the can carefully. Move your thumbstick around spraying air at different angles to loosen and remove any build-up. 


What to do if Only One Joy Con Connects? 

Another issue Switch users can encounter is Joy Con connectivity problems. This can often be corrected by ensuring that your Switch is being constantly updated. Sometimes, without realizing it, we can miss many crucial updates provided by Nintendo. These updates are very important for the health of our gaming consoles and often, if missed, can be the cause of problems such as, Joy Con connectivity issues. If you are experiencing a stubborn Joy Con, make sure that your Switch has downloaded the latest software update. 


My Joy Con Calibration is Off. How Can I Fix it?

The best way to deal with a Joy Con who’s calibration is off is to recalibrate your controller. To do this, select “System Settings” on your Switch. In this menu, scroll down and select “Controllers & Sensors”. From there, select “Calibrate Control Sticks” and follow the instructions given. Once this process is complete, your Joy Con should reflect the new calibration. If you do not see this immediately, try turning your Switch off and then back on. Your Switch now should reflect the recalibration.


Can Joy Con Drift be Fixed for Free?

If the drift you are experiencing in your Joy Con is due to a hardware issue then Nintendo might be able to help you out. This is a part of their “Joy Con Repair Program” which was implemented after many Joy Cons were found with unexplained hardware issues causing drift. 

If you have followed the steps outlined above and ruled out, minor software problems or dirt & grime as the culprit – you may need to send in your Joy Con controllers to Nintendo, where they will repair them for free. You can start this process by visiting the Joy Con Repair Program website operated by Nintendo via this link: 


How Long Does a Joy Con Repair Take?

The general consensus seems to indicate that Joy Con repairs by Nintendo take roughly 2 weeks. Some people have reported a turn-around of as quick as 3 days. Considering this is a free service provided by Nintendo, it is possible that you may encounter a longer repair wait time. That being said, people seem to be very happy with the results of their fixed Joy Con controllers and encourage others to take advantage of this program.

What about Nintendo Switch Lite Joy Con drift?

Unfortunately, the Joy Con issue isn’t limited to just the traditional Switch console. It has also popped up as a problem for Switch Lite users as well. Drifting controllers on the Switch Lite are a little more difficult to fix, since the controllers can’t be disconnected, replaced or sent in separately from the console for repair. If you are experiencing controller issues on your Lite, you can follow the same steps outlined in the above “Drift Fixes” section of this article. They’re helpful steps for fixing it at home. 


If the at-home remedies above don’t seem to fix the drift in your Switch Lite, we recommend you reach out to Nintendo directly to see about taking advantage of their repair program. You can reach their Customer Service line at 1 (800) 255-3700. If your Joy Con issues aren’t covered by Nintendo, you’re always welcome to bring it in to your local uBreakiFix. We’re experts at fixing all kinds of tech, and our diagnostics are always free.

The Nintendo Switch is a truly awesome console. However, Joy Con drift issues can take the “joy” out of gaming for even the biggest Nintendo fans. We hope that this article has helped you understand how drift occurs, ways to hopefully avoid this all-too-common issue, and the steps to remedy the problem if it comes up. With any luck, you can go back to doing what you love most. Happy gaming! 

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