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What is stick drift and what causes it?

Have you ever been gaming and noticed that your character or vehicle suddenly started moving without you touching the joystick? This phenomenon is called "stick drift," and it's a common problem with game controllers.
Dylan de Jonge
Aug. 17, 2023

Have you ever been gaming and noticed that your character or vehicle suddenly started moving without you touching the joystick? This phenomenon is called 'stick drift', and it's a common problem with game controllers.

In this article, we dive deeper into exactly what stick drift is, why it happens and how to fix it. We also cover some frequently asked questions about this phenomenon. So let's get to work quickly and tackle this irritating problem once and for all!

What is Stick Drift?

Stick drift, or "joystick drift," is an unwanted movement of the joystick, where the cursor, character or vehicle in a game begins to move unintentionally. This happens without you touching or moving the joystick. It can be particularly frustrating, especially if it happens during a crucial moment in a competitive game.

Causes of Stick Drift

Stick drift can have several causes. Some common causes are:

  1. Wear and tear: Over time, wear and tear on the joystick's internal components can cause stick drift.
  2. Dirt and dust: Accumulation of dirt and dust in the controller can affect joystick operation and cause stick drift.
  3. Manufacturing defects: Sometimes a manufacturing defect in the controller can cause stick drift, even on new controllers.

Stick Drift at Different Controllers

Although stick drift can occur with any type of game controller, some controllers are more susceptible to it than others. For example, Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers often suffer the most from stick drift but also Xbox, PlayStation Dualsense and Dualshock 4 controllers do not escape this ailment.

Temporary Solutions

If you need a quick fix for stick drift, here are some temporary solutions:

  1. Resetting or recalibrating: In some cases, it is possible to solve stick drift by resetting the controller. Try recalibrating the joystick through your console or game settings.
  2. Cleaning: For example, use compressed air to blow dust and dirt out of the joystick.
  3. Stick rotation: Rotate the joystick in a circular motion to loosen any stuck particles.

Permanent Solutions

For a permanent solution to stick drift, try the following steps:

  1. Controller repair: Open the controller and try to identify the problem. For example, this could be a worn potentiometer or a loose contact. If necessary, replace the damaged parts.
  2. Get professional help: If you are unsure of your skills to repair the controller yourself, consider seeking help from a professional or the manufacturer.
  3. Purchasing a new controller: In some cases, it may be wiser to buy a new controller, especially if the current controller is already old or badly damaged.

Frequently Asked Questions about Stick Drift

Here are some frequently asked questions about stick drift.

Is stick drift covered under my controller's warranty?

It depends on the manufacturer and the terms of the warranty. In some cases, stick drift is considered a manufacturing defect and is covered by the warranty. However, it is important to check the warranty terms carefully and contact the manufacturer to be sure.

Can I prevent stick drift?

  1. Keep your controller clean: Clean the joystick regularly to prevent accumulation of dirt and dust.
  2. Handle your controller with care: Avoid rough handling and do not throw the controller on the ground or against objects.
  3. Store the controller in a safe place: Make sure the controller is not exposed to extreme temperatures or humidity.

What is the best controller to avoid stick drift?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as controller quality can vary between manufacturers and models. Read reviews and ask other gamers about their experiences to make an informed choice.

Dylan de Jonge
Obsessed with games since childhood. From flames on the SNES and gameboy to GoldenEye on the N64. I am a possessor of every next-gen console & a gaming PC. My preference is (MMO)RPGs after an unhealthy obsession with WoW which comes back every expansion :-).
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