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Why Does The PS5 Controller Drift And How Can You Fix It?

Isn’t it annoying when your gaming character keeps moving when you aren’t pressing any button? This situation, known as controller drift, is enough to drive any gamer crazy. Drift is a problem that occurs in all controllers, including the PS5 DualSense controller, so what can you do about it?

PS5 controller drift occurs when the potentiometer (part of the analog stick) wears out or dust or food particles are stuck inside the device. Keep the controller clean and dust-free to prevent controller drift, and check for software updates at the first sign of any issue. 

If you’re looking to learn why controller drift occurs in the PS5 controller and how you can stop it, you’re in the right place. Let’s learn all the tips and tricks to stop controller drift and prevent it in the future as well.

What Is Controller Drift?

PS5 Controller on Charging Dock

Have you ever finished climbing a mountain in a game and then your character jumped off the cliff without any reason, ruining your progress? Controller drift is the likely the culprit. While we discuss more DualSense issues you may run into in our Ultimate PS5 Owner’s Guide (skim that when you have some time), controller drift is one of the most annoying.

Controller drift is a term used to explain random movements of your gaming character even when you haven’t commanded it to do such a thing. It’s unpredictable, annoying, and upsetting when you’re making good progress in a game but you lose due to controller drift. 

Even if you’re using a new console such as the PS5 (on Amazon), you may experience the controller’s drift more than once. It’s a common problem in all controllers. Even though controllers are getting better with time thanks to newer and newer technology, the problem has unfortunately persisted.

Analog stick drift can occur even if you don’t press any buttons. This happens when the electrons inside the controller move due to a false alarm. The conductive gap between the circuit is filled and the circuit is completed. A complete circuit will allow current to pass through causing a random movement in your game. 

Usually, this is how it works when you use the analog stick and other buttons on your controller. But can it occur even if you don’t use any buttons? Well, yes, it can occur due to various reasons.

The most common reason is that your controller is broken.

How Common Is PS5 Stick Drift?

PS5 uses the Sony DualSense controller (on Amazon) that comes with a range of innovative features and adaptive triggers. The design of this controller is sturdy and robust. So, does the PS5 controller drift too? 

The answer to this question isn’t a yes or no for everyone. However, PS5 controller drift isn’t as common as it is with other controllers. It could be due to new technology and the controller’s potentiometer.

But that doesn’t mean that the PS5 controller never drifts. There have been some complaints by PS5 users about controller drift in their new console. Controller drift can occur due to damage, especially if your controller is aging.

Regardless of whether it’s something innate in the controller or damage caused by the gamer, it’ss important to find a good solution for the controller drift in your PS5. Otherwise, it can ruin your whole gaming experience. After all, one wrong step can make you lose the whole game.

And watch out for DuelSense controller lag, which may look like stick drift sometimes.

What Causes Drift in PS5 Controllers?

Various factors can cause a drift in the PS5 controller. If you know the reasons behind the controller drift, you can prevent this issue in the future. Let’s review the most common causes of drift in PS5 controllers:

Worn Out Potentiometer

There is a limited number of cycles that the analog stick can withstand. When it hits that threshold, the potentiometer inside the controller can wear down and work unpredictably.

The maximum a controller stick can provide is 2 million motion cycles and 500,000 cycles using the R3 and L3 buttons of the stick. For a gamer, this amount is easy to hit; it can be completed in around 400 hours of gaming. 

When you hit the threshold, different parts of the stick can wear down, including the potentiometer. A worn-out potentiometer means that it may allow the circuit to complete randomly and without any manual signals. When the circuit is completed inside the controller, the analog stick works on its own, causing controller drift.

Dust or Debris

Dust particles trapped inside the controller can be a culprit for the controller’s drift. There are many holes in the controller through which food crumbs or other debris can enter and reach the circuit board.

Dust and food particles can give a false alarm to the potentiometer causing it to follow an incorrect reading. This way, the electrons start flowing inside the circuit and you end up with controller drift. 

Using a cover for your PS5 controller can prevent such particles from going inside it. You can get the Verbatim Anti-Slip Silicone Skin Protective Cover (on Amazon). It keeps the inside of the controller clean, prevents scratches, and generally keeps your controller safe from damage.

User Damage

Throwing the controller on the bed or floor, dropping a hard and heavy object on it, or hitting the controller can damage the exterior and interior.

This sort of damage can limit the device’s lifespan and result in more wear. Worn-out components can cause controller drift by giving a false signal to the potentiometer.

How Do You Stop Your PS5 Controller From Drifting?

Man play with Play station

As we mentioned, controller drift is a common issue — and, luckily, it’s usually fixable. There are many solutions to stop controller drift in the PS5 controller. Let’s look at a few:

Update the Controller Software

Having up-to-date controller software is always important if you want it to function properly. Bad software can also cause controller drift in your PS5 controller. The purpose of an update is to ensure that any bugs have been fixed and the performance has been improved. Chances are that if you update the controller’s software, the controller drift issue could be resolved. 

To update your controller software, follow the steps below:

  • Press the ‘PS‘ button. 
  • Choose ‘Wireless PS5 Controller‘ from ‘Accessories.’
  • In the settings, go to the ‘System‘ option and choose ‘System Software.’
  • Click on ‘System Software Updates and Settings.’
  • Click on ‘Update System Software‘ if there are any available updates.
  • Keep your updates automatic so you don’t have to manually update the software every time.

Clean the Analog Stick

Dirty analog sticks are a common cause of controller drift. Thoroughly cleaning the analog stick may solve your problem. You don’t need to use any cleaning solution or liquid for this purpose as it can go inside the controller and damage it. 

Use a dry cloth, such as an eyeglass cleaning cloth, and gently wipe the analog stick. For the future, don’t eat or drink anything near your controller to help keep it clean.

Reset the Controller

Resetting the controller can give it a refresh and enhance its performance. To reset the controller:

  • Turn off the controller and find the ‘Reset’ button at the back of the controller.
  • Use a paper clip or any sort of pin to press that button. 
  • Press on the ‘Reset’ button for 5 seconds and leave it.
  • Turn on the controller and connect it again to the PS5. Check if the issue has been resolved.

As we’ve discussed elsewhere on the blog, this kind of reset is great for clearing any number of issues. If your DuelSense keeps flashing blue after you turn it on, fails to connect to the console, or maybe it’s hitting you with constant phantom vibrations, try hitting it with a reset to see if things clear up.

Reconnect With Bluetooth Again

If your controller has been connected to the Bluetooth for hours on end, you can try reconnecting it. An unstable Bluetooth connection can make the controller perform tasks automatically or with a delay. 

To reconnect the controller:

  • Turn off Bluetooth from the PS5 and it will disconnect from the controller.
  • Turn off the controller to give it a restart.
  • Turn the controller back on.
  • Turn on the Bluetooth from the PS5 again and connect the controller.
  • Check if the issue has been resolved.

Turn Down Trigger Effect Intensity

You can turn down or turn off the trigger effect intensity to prevent controller drift in your PS5 controller. To do this:

  • Go to settings and choose ‘Accessibility.’
  • Click on ‘Controllers’ and go to ‘Trigger Effect Intensity.’
  • Select either ‘Weak‘ or ‘Off‘ from the menu. 

Send the Controller for Repair

If the joystick isn’t working due to damage from drops or hits, you can send the controller for a repair. Hardware issues usually can’t be resolved at home so you shouldn’t try to open the controller and fix the issue yourself.

If your controller has reached the end of its lifespan, consider buying a new one. Purchase the PlayStation DualSense Wireless Controller (on Amazon) and start playing your games freely and confidently.

Additional Tips

Close up of man hands holding wireless joysticks on foreground

There are some general tips to keep in mind when it comes to proper controller care:

  • Don’t open the controller to try to fix a hardware malfunction; let a professional do this.
  • Don’t use any liquid to clean the controller.
  • Keep the controller clean, dry, and dust-free.
  • Use a cover to protect the controller from dust and liquids.
  • Don’t hit the controller hard and treat it nicely to increase its longevity.
  • Try not to leave it on a charger permanently when not in use to maintain the battery life.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how you can prevent and stop controller drift in a PS5 controller, you can experience amazing gaming without worrying about uncontrolled movements.

Controller drift is a fixable issue if you get to the core of the problem. Always try to learn the cause behind the issue so that you can prevent it from happening in the future.