So you bought a Nintendo Switch, you’re running free through the wilderness of “Breath of the Wild”, or racing your friends in “Mario Kart 8”, then your Joy-Con controller stick starts doing funny things. Suddenly your character starts walking off a ledge without you touching the controls, or the menu becomes a navigational nightmare because it is auto-scrolling on its own.
If this has happened to you, don’t worry. Your console isn’t possessed by the vanquished enemies of your heroes. You are experiencing the dreaded “Joy-Con Drift”!
Here is a quick guide on what I believe to be the easiest solutions.
Option 1: Replace The Thumb sticks Yourself
Most people would not list this as the first option, and if you are inexperienced at opening electronics then this may not be the best option for you. However with a little patience this is a very affordable, and overall quick solution.
I have replaced the Joy-Con thumb sticks in a total of four Joy-Cons myself, each taking roughly 20-30 minutes to do, and for the cost of about $10 to replace 2 of them. You can buy a completely compatible kit on Amazon. These are the ones I ordered and come with the appropriate screwdrivers and tools to fix your Joy-Con.
Youtuber MrMario11 has created a very comprehensive video tutorial you can watch below. Take your time, and your Joy-Cons will be up and running quickly. I also want to add that after having done this to all of mine, the drifting issue has not returned.
Option 2: Try Calibrating the Joy-Cons
The reason this is not number one is that after having four Joy-Cons go through this, I have not found this solution to fix any of them. However, just in case it works for you. Here is how you do it:
Step 1: Attach Joy-Cons to the Switch Console
Step 2: Go into the “System Settings”
Step 3: Go to “Controllers and Sensors”
Step 4: “Calibrate Control Sticks”
Step 5: Complete the calibration process and restart the Switch
Any controller that uses a thumb stick control has the ability to get out of calibration. It also has the potential to get dirty, and may simply need cleaned with a cotton swab and some isopropyl alcohol.
Option 3: Send It Back To Nintendo
Nintendo has always known this was an issue. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Nintendo regarding this problem. Nintendo of America has made several public statements about the Joy-Con issue as well.
Nintendo has suggested that anyone having issues should contact them at https://www.support.nintendo.com to get it corrected. As of the date of this article they are replacing/fixing the Joy-Cons for free, even if out of the 1 year manufacturer date.
The downside is that the customer is still responsible for getting the Joy-Con to Nintendo, and due to delays with the Coronavirus pandemic, production is still slowed. There is no date or timeline I can give you as to when you will get it back.
There is also no guarantee that what you get back will be the same Joy-Con you sent in. This could be a problem for some customers, particularly those who have limited edition Joy-Cons like those that came with “Animal Crossing”.
Option 4: Just Buy New Ones
The downside to this is that there is no guarantee that the new Joy-Cons you buy will have the problem fixed. You could develop it later, and then you are back in the same position. I also have a “Switch Pro Controller” and have not had the drift issues that the Joy-Cons do. Spend your money wisely
Having replaced four control sticks myself, I know that it is not something of any great difficulty. I think Nintendo should be commended for recognizing the fault, but I am hoping the problem is fixed on all future Nintendo Switch Consoles, controllers, and Joy-Cons.