How to Fix Controller Drift on Xbox One (5 Quick Fixes)

how to fix controller drift

When your Xbox One controller begins suffering from drift, you will notice unnecessary movement while playing games, so if you want to fix the controller drift. Then this guide is for you. I will let you know how to repair or solve the Xbox One controller or stick drifting.

However, controller drifting is the most annoying issue, and one cannot play a game perfectly if the analog stick drifts; due to this, you can see that your characters move around the screen entirely on their own. I know it is quite frustrating & can make games almost impossible to play. Though this issue is not just restricted to Xbox one or PS4 controllers, it happens even in the newest generation of consoles such as Xbox series X|S, PS5, and even on Nintendo switch. It can happen to your controller at any time & can ruin your gaming experience. But don’t worry; you can fix the issue by following this guide.

What is Xbox One Controller Drift?

We’re all aware that the Xbox One controller has two joysticks for interacting with games. However, the joystick has to do many things based on the game. For instance, it can modify the point of view or movement of the character. Hence, the joysticks work correctly, as you can see by moving the character with the joystick. But, if your controller drifted, you will see the characters move without your input & messed up the game.

For example, if you play a racing game, the car may drift right or left even when you wish it to remain straight. As you can see, it becomes a huge problem while playing a game. Although it is caused by dust, debris, or sometimes happens due to a faulty or damaged controller. Hence, it is not possible to determine the actual cause behind it. Hence, the issue is irritating; it does not mean you will have to purchase a new controller. So read on further to find out how to resolve it.

5 Easiest Ways to Fix Xbox One Controller Drift

Ways to Fix Xbox One Controller Drift
Ways to Fix Xbox One Controller Drift

The Xbox One controller has two analog sticks, and they work exactly how they are supposed to, but when the controller drift happens, the characters you are controlling will move across the screen even when you are not using the buttons. So to fix the issue apply the below methods.

Fix #1- Cleaning the Thumb sticks of a Controller

This is the simplest way to resolve the issue. Following the below instructions will not void your controller’s warranty.

  • First, take a cotton cloth & dip it in isopropyl alcohol.
  • Ensure that the tip of the cotton is rinsed with alcohol.
  • Then, hold the corners of the thumb sticks with the rinsed tip.
  • Now move the stick in other directions and carefully clean it.
  • Repeat the process 2 3 times to clean it completely.

After that, connect your controller with your system and run the “Game controller Tester” shortcut from the desktop. Then check if the sticks work perfectly.

Fix #2- Using Compressed Air

The other way to fix the stick drift on Xbox controllers is by cleaning the joysticks using compressed air or an air blower. Also, the idea is to erase dirt and debris from the controllers completely. Though, you have to be cautious while dealing with compressed air. If you do not keep the compressed air, you can add more moisture inside the stick. Here are some guidelines that will help you safely erase the dirt from the controller using a can of compressed air.

  • First, shake the can of compressed air & then join the straw.
  • Second, ensure that your Xbox controller is entirely off. Also, remove batteries if it is a wireless controllers.
  • Third, by using a straw, blow air into the bottom of the sticks quickly, and do not blow continuously at the same place.
  • Now, gradually move your controllers as you do and turn the controller upside down to make it quicker for the dust to get itself.
  • When satisfied, clean your controller and leave it for a few minutes to let it dry.
  • When you are done with both joysticks, keep the controllers inactive for some time. It will let the device settle.

Hope that your issue got resolved. But always be careful while using compressed air. Even if your controller is working correctly, spraying it with compressed air in a month would help keep it clean & extend its life.

Fix #3- Fix the Controller Drift by Opening up the Controller

If you have tried the solutions without opening the controller & you are still facing drift, you may have to solve it deeply. It could include removing the framework of the controller & look into the mechanics. Although, it will entirely void any remaining warranty of the controller. But if your controller is not under warranty, then apply this method as you won’t be able to get the free replacement or repair from Microsoft without a warranty. Apply the below instruction to resolve the controller drift.

  • Turn the controller over & erase the batteries; if it is connected with wire, then remove it.
  • Press your nail into the little cracks of the controller, located on the parts you press or hold during a game. Now, pull the frame off from both the right & left parts.
  • Get a small screwdriver & open all the screws that you can see.
  • Now push up on the back of the controller frame until the front side comes off.
  • Here, you have to remove the stick that is causing the issue.
  • You will see a small grey clip on the left of the stick. If it’s loose, try to squeeze it as much as possible & see whether that fixes the issue. If not, then attempt the next step.
  • Now use the screwdriver between the joystick socket & grey clip, and then remove the clip by moving it up.
  • After that, repair the controller & check whether the issue is resolved or not.

Fix # 4- Reset Your Xbox One Controller

Sometimes, a simple reset will help you solve your problem. Follow the below guideline to reset the controller.

  • Hold the Xbox button on the controller for a few seconds until it switches off.
  • Wait for a second, and then tap the Xbox button to start again.

Fix #5- Replace the Analog Stick of the Xbox One Controller

If the above workarounds do not help you resolve the issue, then maybe replacing the stick would help. This method involves a lot of care & attention. If you think you cannot do it, then ask your friend for help. The following mentioned things you will need before applying this method.

  • New analog stick
  • Solder
  • De-soldering tool
  • Soldering tool
  • T7 Torx
  • T9, T10 safety Torx drivers

Here are the instructions that will help you replace the analog stick

  • Use a pry tool and T9/T10 Torx driver to disassemble your Xbox controller.
  • Then, use the de-soldering tool to erase the analog stick you want to replace.
  • Place the new analog stick onto the circuit board using a soldering tool & solder.
  • Now, connect the controller back again & test it through the “Game Controller Tester” or by playing a game.

If these tips are not fixing the issue, it might be time to buy a new controller.


Q1. Is it possible to prevent controller drift from happening?

Controller drift is a problem that is solely related to the hardware side of the controller & hardware tends to degrade with time, and it is something we cannot stop from happening. But you can do your best to extend its life by cleaning it properly. 
Q2. How to resolve sticky buttons on an Xbox one controller?

If you are facing a sticky button issue on your controller, then unplug it and, with a soft cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol, clean the area where you feel the stickiness.

Q3. How can I update my Xbox One controller?

To update the controller’s software, switch it on and log in to the Xbox network. Then press the Xbox one button to view the guide & open the system > Settings > Kinect & devices > Devices & Accessories. Choose More > Software version > Update now.

Q5. What are the main causes of controller drift?

The most common causes behind the drift in a controller are debris & dust that are making their way under the stick & cause the stuck issues. The other reasons might be low battery levels and a potentiometer that deals with the movement within the controller.

Final Words

We have mentioned all the possible ways to fix the controller drift on Xbox One. You may find the situation annoying, but you can use any method that you think will solve the problem. But be careful in applying the method & ensure that your controller is turned off. However, if you still face any issues, you should take the controller to a service center.

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