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The Xbox controller is a great piece of hardware that can also be paired with a PC and phone, making it an essential gaming hardware for gamers playing games on different platforms. However, there may come a time when an Xbox controller will develop drift issues. Xbox controller drift issues are frustrating to deal with or fix, but all is not lost.

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Owners have multiple options to fix Xbox controller drift issues, which include quick fixes like using isopropyl alcohol to clean the analog sticks to something more complex like dismantling the Xbox controller to eliminate obstructions. Fortunately, this guide will cover all effective workarounds for fixing Xbox controller drift issues and provide other helpful tidbits that largely go unnoticed.

Updated August 3, 2023, by M. Salman Shahid: Be it gaming consoles or controllers, inflation has skyrocketed, making it more difficult and far less affordable for players from enjoying their favorite games. Fortunately, it's possible to repair existing and expensive hardware. For instance, by fixing an Xbox controller with drift issues, players can continue gaming without having to invest in a brand-new one. With a few more steps added to clarify the process, here's an up-to-date guide on how to fix Xbox controller drift issues.

How to Fix Xbox One S/X and Series S/X Controller Drift – Quick Fix


To fix Xbox controller drift issues quickly, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the Xbox controller with a dry cloth and remove all traces of grime.
  2. Next, dip cotton swabs in isopropyl alcohol and rub them on the analog sticks.
  3. Keep the Xbox controller aside to let it dry, and then rinse and repeat.

How to Fix Xbox One S/X and Series S/X Controller Drift – Adjust Deadzone

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To fix Xbox controller drift issues by adjusting the deadzone, follow these steps:

  1. Power on the Xbox console.
  2. Access the Settings menu.
  3. Select Devices & Accessories.
  4. Select the Xbox controller.
  5. Locate Deadzone under Controller Options.
  6. Adjust the deadzone slider for the Xbox controller.

How to Fix Xbox One S/X and Series S/X Controller Drift – Update Controller

xbox series x console controller dark background

To fix Xbox controller issues by updating firmware, follow these steps:

  1. Power on the Xbox console.
  2. Press the Xbox button.
  3. Select Profile & System.
  4. Select Settings > Devices & Connections > Accessories.
  5. Select the Xbox controller.
  6. On the next screen, select the three dots to check the firmware version.
  7. If an update is available, select Firmware version and follow the steps provided.

How to Physically Repair Xbox Controller Drift Issue

Kumail Nanjiani Xbox 360 Controller Gears of War

While changing the batteries or checking for damage are obvious checks, there are other ways to fix the Xbox controller drift issue, such as:

By Using Compressed Air

A common reason Xbox controllers develop drift issues is dirt building up within the controller, preventing the analog stick from working optimally. The easiest way to fix this issue involves using a can of compressed air to clean the cavities surrounding the analog sticks. As the air hits the base of the analog stick, be sure to move the stick to free trapped dirt slowly.

While it may take several attempts to dislodge any dirt causing stick drift issues, it is a workaround worth checking out before dismantling an Xbox controller.

By Dismantling the Xbox One Controller

If a can of compressed air does not fix controller drift issues, then dismantling the Xbox controller is the next best bet. However, dismantling an Xbox controller is easier said than done and could do more harm than good. Additionally, disassembling an Xbox controller also void any warranty, meaning Xbox owners should do so at their own risk.

To dismantle an Xbox controller to fix drift issues, follow these steps:

  1. Power off the Xbox controller.
  2. Remove the Xbox controller's corner grips on both sides with a prying tool.
  3. Remove the battery cover and the sticker to find the hidden screw.
  4. Unscrew the hidden screw using a T9 screwdriver.
  5. Use the T9 screwdriver to unscrew both screws on each side along the grips.
  6. Remove the casing of the Xbox controller.
  7. Once the internal parts of the Xbox controller are accessible, look for blockages that could hinder the movement of the analog sticks. This also allows owners to thoroughly clean their Xbox controller to prevent such issues from occurring again.

How to Prevent Xbox Controller Drift Issues

The primary cause of Xbox controller drift issues is dust, debris, and grime. Food particles, dead skin, and pet fur can enter the controller, causing drift issues. Additionally, wear and tear can cause Xbox controller drift issues. To prevent Xbox controller drift issues, consider the following preventive measures:

  1. Do not store the Xbox controller in a dusty place.
  2. Do not use the controller with dirty hands.
  3. Do not toss or throw the controller.
  4. Store the controller in a cool and dry place.
  5. Do not press hard on the R3 or L3 buttons. Consider remapping these controls to different buttons.
  6. Do not forget to update the Xbox controller.

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