When you play a lot of intense games, it's inevitable that you'll eventually get too excited and smash down on the joystick in a certain direction. Getting too into a game is understandable, unfortunately though, being too rough with the controller can break the delicate machinery inside and cause phantom inputs. When this controller drift happens, it leads to more frustration, affecting games and disrupting shows and movies. So, how do you fix controller drift on a PS5 controller?
There are a few soft fixes you can try before you attempt to open the controller and take a look inside. The most common advice, and also the least likely to work, is to rotate the thumbstick while pressing down on the center. That's something like blowing into an N64 cartridge to get the dust out. Sometimes dust and dirt are the issues for PS5 controllers as well, so another soft fix is to take some compressed air and blast it into the creases around the thumbstick.
How do you fix PS5 controller drift?
If you've tried the soft fixes and you're still drifting across the screen, you probably have a mechanical issue and it's time to open up your controller. This can be a frightening prospect since PS5 controllers are expensive, but as long as you have the right tools and you're gentle, the fix is relatively simple. First, you'll want to remove the black cover that surrounds the thumbsticks and the controller's handles. Once removed, take a plastic pryer and detach the two clips attaching the left and right trigger buttons.
With the cover and the trigger buttons detached, you'll see four screws: one in each handle, and one in each alcove where the triggers were. Remove the screws and then pry open the clips along the seam on the side of the controller. There are four big clips, two on the side near the triggers, and two further down in the center of the grips. There are also clips on the bottom to either side of the charging port. With all the clips detached the front of the controller pops right off.
Now inside the controller, be careful not to break or tear anything. Remove the large gray battery from the center and then unscrew the black panel beneath it to reveal the circuit board. Keep track of the screws, luckily, they are all the same size throughout. Carefully unplug the five flex cables from the chip. They look like amber-colored ribbons and have plastic inputs that you can remove with tweezers. Now you can unclip the main board and gently turn it over so that you can expose the thumbsticks.
The thumbsticks are couched in metal boxes. small plastic coverings line the sides of those boxes, and the bits of dirt that get in between it and the joystick are the culprits affecting the drift. Don't bend the plastic covers to the side more than 45 degrees or they can break off. Clean the insides with an isopropyl-soaked q-tip and check to see if you have any broken parts. If you don't, then cleaning probably worked and you'll just need to put the controller back together.