How to Fix Joy-Con Drift on Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite

Troubleshooting this common Switch Joy-Con issue

Anyone who's spent a lot of time with the Nintendo Switch gaming console has either encountered or heard of one of the most common issues with the Joy-Con controllers: drift.

Joy-Con drift occurs when the controller incorrectly registers an input. What this means in-game is your character might move in a certain direction even if you haven't touched the joystick.

Hands holding Nintendo Joy-Cons
 Nintendo

Causes of Joy-Con Drift

Joy-Con drift affects the left joystick more often than the right, possibly because it's typically the one you use to move a character in a game, so it gets more use. Other than simple wear, other causes of drift can include miscalibration, a connection issue, or dirt in the sensor.

How to Fix Joy-Con Drift on Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite

The steps you take to fix Joy-Con drift can depend on whether you're using the regular Nintendo Switch or the Switch Lite. Follow these suggestions to get your controller working again.

  1. Clean the joystick. Despite the rubber gasket that should keep most dirt and debris out of the Joy-Con, it's still possible for dust to get in and interfere with the sensors. If you have a can of compressed air with a nozzle, try to get a few shots in under the gasket, wiggle the affected joystick a little, and then repeat.

  2. Connect your Joy-Cons to the Switch. This solution isn't an option if you're using the Nintendo Switch Lite, which doesn't have removable Joy-Cons. But if you have the original version, your controllers may be having trouble communicating with the console and giving it false inputs. Remove the Switch from the dock and slide the Joy-Cons into the sides to see if they work properly this way.

    If this solution works, but you still want to use your Switch in its dock, try playing closer to the console to make sure the connection stays strong.

  3. Reset your button configuration. If you've done any custom remapping of your controller buttons, the new settings may be affecting how well the Joy-Con works. From the Home screen, go to System Settings > Controllers and Sensors > Change Button Mapping, and then select Reset.

    If you've remapped your Joy-Con's buttons, a blue wrench symbol will appear next to its icon in the lower-left corner of the screen.

  4. Check for firmware updates. Just like the console, Nintendo issues new software to the controllers to make them work better and more efficiently. On the Controllers and Sensors screen in System Settings, select Update Controllers to see if your Joy-Cons are running the most current version of their firmware.

    Check the console for updates by going to System Settings from the Home screen, scrolling down to System, and selecting System Update.

  5. Calibrate the controllers. For a variety of reasons, the joysticks on your controllers may lose track of where their center or neutral position is. The Controllers and Sensors section of System Settings also has an area called Calibrate Control Sticks that will walk you through dialing in your Joy-Cons.

  6. Check for software updates. If you're only getting drift in one game, see if it's up to date. Do so by highlighting it on the Home screen, pressing the + (plus) button, and then selecting Software Update > Via the Internet.

  7. Confirm your settings. This option also applies to specific games, some of which use motion controls (for example, tilting the Joy-Con to steer in a racing title). Check the in-game settings to see if it's set to use motion controls instead of joystick ones.

  8. Remove any decals or skins from the Joy-Con. If you've customized your Switch or Switch Lite with stickers or a custom skin, it may be interfering with the joystick.

  9. Contact Nintendo. If your controller still isn't working correctly, and you don't want to open them up yourself, the Switch manufacturer offers a repair service for Joy-Cons that requires you to send in your peripheral.

  10. Replace the joystick. Barring all of the official solutions, you can also order a new part and swap it out yourself. Sites like iFixit offer replacements, tools, and step-by-step instructions that will walk you through cracking open the Joy-Con and putting in a new joystick.

    You should only take this option if you're comfortable opening up your hardware yourself, and doing so may void your warranty.