- Joy-Con drift describes the phantom tugging on the joystick when not in use.
- It is a fairly common issue.
- Methods for resolving it include cleaning, recalibration, and installing updates.
- If the Nintendo Joy-Con repair options don’t work, you can send your controller to Nintendo for free.
Joy-Con drift is a fairly common problem for Nintendo Switch users. If you have never experienced drift before now, consider yourself lucky. Joy-Con drift is best described as a phantom tugging on the joystick when you aren’t touching it. Luckily, we have some free troubleshooting tips that might save your controller and allow you to get back to your favorite game on your Switch quickly. Here is how to fix the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con drift for free.
1. Clean the Joy-Con
A good starting place is to clean up your joystick. Dust or grime build up might cause your controllers to act up. We recommend this fix, as opening the controller can void your warranty. Regular cleaning of Joy-Con controllers can prevent further problems down the line.
Have the following supplies handy:
- Fine Tipped Tweezers
- Compressed Air
- Contact Cleaner/Isopropyl Alcohol
Using the tweezers, hold the joystick to one side and lift the cover on top of the base of the stick. Be careful not to rip or pry too hard on this cover. While the cover is lifted, blast some air into the opening to eliminate dust or grit. Repeat these steps at various angles.
Next, test the joystick to see if that has solved the problem. If not, take a little bit of isopropyl alcohol or contact cleaner, put it on the bottom of the joystick, and work it around by moving it. This is a case where a little goes a long way, so do not overdo it with the cleaner.
2. Recalibrate Joysticks
Sometimes drift happens to the controller even when there’s no physical problem. Recalibrating the joysticks can get rid of Joy-Con drift. If your calibration is off, it means the sensors in the joystick have lost their center. As a result, drifting will occur.
To recalibrate your controller, go to the Home Page, then select System Settings> Controllers and Sensors> Calibrate Control Sticks. Follow the on-screen instructions to get your joysticks recalibrated. You will want to ensure the green cross appears in the circle’s center at the calibration’s end.
If you believe nothing is physically wrong with your controller, hit the “Y” button to reset to default settings.
3. Update the Switch
If none of the above methods works, we recommend updating the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo is consistently working on updates, so keeping your system up to date is a good way of preventing bugs or problems like this.
To update your Switch, ensure you are connected to WiFi. Go to the home page and select System Settings> System> System Update. Switch will look for new updates and install them if any.
After the updates are installed, test the Joy-Cons to see if that solves the drift problem.
4. Update Joy-Con Firmware
Keeping your Switch system up to date is very important, but updating the firmware for Joy-Cons is also vital. So make sure you go through the last step before trying this fix. If the system is not up to date, there is a chance the Joy-Con Firmware won’t update either.
Go to the home menu to start the firmware update, then System Settings> Controllers and Sensors> Update Controllers. If there is new firmware, your Switch will update one controller at a time. So be sure to let both finish updating before testing out the controller.
5. Check if Your Controllers Are Connected Correctly
Nintendo suggests you check this step before attempting further fixes. Make sure your Joy-Cons are speaking to your Switch correctly. To make sure they are, go to the home menu and then select the Controllers button.
You have probably seen this screen before, but ensure that the images depict how the controllers are used. For example, the Joy-Cons images should be highlighted on either side of the screen if they are both on the console. If they are detached, make sure they are facing the right direction. Don’t forget to change the orientation.
6. Send Your Joy-Con to Nintendo for Free
Did none of the above ways to fix Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons drift for free work? There is one last step to try: mail your Joy-Cons to Nintendo for a professional repair. You will have to do without your Joy-Cons for a couple of weeks, but it is well worth the wait.
The good news is that even if your Switch is not under warranty, because of the widespread nature of the Joy-Con drift problem, Nintendo provides free repairs. Unfortunately, this doesn’t extend to Switch Lite.
To set up a Joy-Con repair, fill out the form on Nintendo’s website, then send the affected controllers. You can send up to four Joy-Cons in one package. The form we linked to is for U.S. and Canadian residents. Try to find a repair center in your area if you live elsewhere.
Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons in the News
As of 2022, the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons have been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons. A class-action lawsuit was filed in the United States in 2022, stating that the Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons are faulty and defective.
Nintendo has stated that they are continuing to work on resolving the issue. However, it is unclear when a permanent fix will be available. Until then, gamers who are experiencing Joy-Con drift are encouraged to send their Joy-Cons to Nintendo for a free repair if you reside in the U.S. or Canada.
Nintendo Joy-Con Repair: Summary
You have a few options when it comes to Nintendo Joy-Con repair. These options include cleaning the Joy-Con, recalibrating the Joy-Con, updating your switch, updating Joy-Con firmware, checking that your Joy-Con is connected correctly, and sending your Joy-Con to Nintendo. The first several options should fix your issue, and sending your Joy-Cons to Nintendo is a last resort if nothing else helps with your Nintendo Joy-Con repair.
- Nintendo Switch vs Switch Lite vs Switch OLED: Full Comparison — One is handheld, another suitable for TV, and the third, dual play modes. Which gaming product is right for you?
- Your Complete Guide to Nintendo Switch — The key to enjoying your Nintendo Switch experience fully starts here.
- The 7 Best Nintendo Switch Sports Games — From tennis, to skateboarding, to golf, discover the titles which can elevate your gaming experience on the Nintendo Switch.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/Trygve Finkelsen.