How to Fix an Xbox Series X or S Controller That Won't Turn On

Get your controller working so you can get back in the game

If the controllers on the Xbox Series X or S malfunction, you can usually identify that there is a problem when the Xbox button won’t light up, or when the light turns off suddenly and without warning. This button normally flashes and then stays lit whenever the controller is on.

When the Xbox light on an Xbox Series X or S controller won’t turn on, that typically means that the controller itself isn’t turning on either. That makes the Xbox button light the best indicator of whether or not one of these controllers is working.

An Xbox Series S controller that won't turn on.
 Jeremy Laukkonen

What Causes an Xbox Series X or S Controller to Not Turn On?

When an Xbox Series X or S controller won’t turn on, it’s usually the batteries or the battery contacts, but it can also be a defective play and charge kit or charging cable, corrupt firmware, or an internal fault. This problem can usually be fixed at home, but there are cases where a controller will need professional repairs or even be beyond fixing.

Here are the most common issues you’ll run into with an Xbox Series X or S controller that won’t turn on:

  • Batteries: When using a controller in wireless mode, batteries are the most common cause of the controller not turning on. If the batteries are worn out, in need of a charge, or installed wrong, the controller won’t turn on.
  • Battery contacts: If the spring-loaded battery contacts are worn or bent, they won’t make good contact with the batteries. When that happens, the controller will fail to turn on.
  • Battery pack: Some battery packs designed for the Xbox One won’t work quite right in Xbox Series X or S controllers due to slightly different dimensions in the battery compartment. The controller also won’t turn on if the battery pack itself has failed.
  • Charging cable: If you use a charge and play kit, or just a regular USB C cable, the cable may be bad. You won’t necessarily be able to tell just by looking at it.
  • Firmware: If a firmware update is interrupted, or firmware is corrupt, that can prevent a controller from charging correctly in the future.
  • Internal faults: Some controllers simply fail due to an internal component breaking or wearing out.

How to Fix an Xbox Series X or S Controller That Won’t Turn On

If your controller won’t turn on, try these troubleshooting tips to get it back up and running:

  1. Check the batteries. Start by removing the battery compartment from the rear of the controller, then remove each battery. Check to see that they were installed in the correct direction, with the + and - signs on the battery lining up with the diagram in the battery compartment. If installed wrong, put them back in the correct way. Otherwise, try a fresh pair of AA batteries.

    Just because batteries work in one thing doesn’t mean they have enough power for another. Even if the batteries work in a remote, for example, that doesn’t mean they have enough juice for your controller.

  2. Check the battery contacts. The Xbox Series X or S controllers use stationary metal nubs for contacts on one side of the battery, and spring-loaded tabs on the other side. If these tabs wear out or are bent in, they won't’ make good contact and the controller may not turn on. If the batteries appear loose, and the tabs appear shoved in, try prying them out gently with a small screwdriver or similar tool.

    The battery contacts in an Xbox Series X|S controller.

    Remove the batteries before prying, and be gentle if you do attempt this fix. Prying too hard may break the tabs.

  3. Test your Xbox Series X or S Play and Charge Kit. If you’re using a play and charge kit, the cable may be damaged, or the battery may be weak. Try them with a different controller if possible, and see if it turns on. If it doesn’t, then either the cable or battery are bad.

  4. Update your controller firmware. Xbox Series X or S controllers are complicated devices that require built-in firmware to operate properly. If an update is interrupted or the firmware is corrupt, the controller may not turn on.

    Plug the controller in via USB, and use another controller to update firmware using this procedure:

    1. Press the Xbox button to open the Guide.
    2. Navigate to Profile & system > Settings.
    3. Navigate to Devices & connections > Accessories.
    4. Select the controller that doesn't work.
    5. Select ... and check for a firmware update.
  5. Try using the controller via USB. Connect the controller to your Xbox using a USB C cable, and see if it works like that. If it does, consider using the controller as a wired controller. It probably has an internal fault that prevents the controller from working on batteries.

  6. Contact Xbox customer support. If your controller is still under warranty, Xbox customer support may be able to help you get it fixed. If it isn’t, they can advise you as to any other repair procedures and help you decide what to do next.

    If your controller is bad and not under warranty, there are a lot of great Xbox Series X or S and Xbox One controllers that will work with your console.

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