Controller stick drift issues are common to most console game controllers, with PS5 DualSense controllers affected by the issue as well.
“Drifting” in terms of a video game console controller is essentially when the controller begins to act on its own: characters move when you are not touching the toggle, vehicles veer off in one direction when they should be going straight, target aim is off because it moves, etc.
The DualSense, shipped with PS5 consoles, experiences this issue too. Luckily, some things can be done to remedy this problem, so if you want to find out how to fix the PS5 DualSense controller drifting, keep reading.
Why Do Controller Drift Problems Occur?
As with any instrument, the more it is used, the greater the wear and tear. Those who use their DualSense controllers frequently tend to wear down the pad’s sensors faster.
Unfortunately, this is not something most controllers in the gaming market could hope to avoid. It is simply a limitation of existing technology due to the activity of use paired with grime.
The really frustrating part is that the controllers are about $70 to replace, and no one wants to dish out that type of money because of a drifting problem.
With that said, the drift issue is not one that can’t be overcome or staved off with a handful of simple solutions.
1. Adjust the Controller’s “Deadzone”
A video game controller’s “dead zone” is the area in its pad where the thumbstick registers no movement.
Different games have different sensitivity levels associated with this area, and many of them (though not all) allow for the threshold of this sensitivity to be altered.
You can check your game’s controller settings and change the input threshold’s size.
If you slightly increase the dead zone threshold gradually, confirming the drift problem is eliminated in between adjustments. Be careful not to set it too high, however, as doing so would affect gameplay.
2. Lift and Rotate Thumbstick
Some games require a lot of fast use and clicking of the thumbstick, which contributes heavily to the drifting issue.
When not using the controller for gameplay, try slightly lifting the thumbstick and rotating it generously.
This activity may seem odd, but it actually helps to reduce the effect of grime accumulated in the pad that contributes to the drifting problem.
See also: PS5 not connecting to TV? 9 fixes to try
3. Clean Your DualSense Controller
When you play games with the controller, your residue and sweat are left on the controller.
It seeps into the grooves, under the buttons, triggers, and anywhere else the controller has an opening. Dirt travels into the controllers with the same pathway.
Therefore, the controller should periodically be cleaned (depending on the level of use).
The best way to clean the DualSense controller is with highly concentrated isopropyl alcohol (to reduce the water content and prevent damage to the controller) and cotton swabs.
Before starting to clean the controller, ensure that it is disconnected. Other than that, you will need to dip the cotton swab into the alcohol and gently work your way around the housing of the thumbstick itself.
Make sure that the dip should not soak the swab before cleaning. It should only be dabbed in alcohol. Don’t press too hard to prevent the fibers of the cotton swab from getting trapped in the controller pad.
4. Update Your Controller and PS5
Even if you have cleaned it and rotated the stick, it never hurts to refresh the performance of our controller.
While most drifting issues can be attributed to hardware issues, software-based reasons should not be disqualified, especially if the above solutions did not fully resolve the drifting problem.
You will need to make sure that the controller is running the latest firmware update as well. To do so, follow these steps:
- Head over to your PS5’s Settings.
- Go to the Accessories tab.
- Select Controller (General).
- Then, select DualSense Wireless Controller Device Software to check and load the latest firmware.
While you are there, you might as well update the firmware on the PS5, too. This can be done via the following path:
- Go to Settings.
- Select the System tab.
- Choose System Software.
- Select System Software Update And Settings.
- Select Update System Software.
These updates should load automatically, but checking to ensure there isn’t a pending update is never a bad idea.
Keeping up with the latest changes assures the console’s and controller’s optimal performance.
5. Reset Your Controller
If you’re still experiencing controller drift on your PS5, the next step is to reset the controller.
This process involves disconnecting the device from the console, prompting it to re-establish a connection and potentially eliminate the drifting problem.
Here’s how to reset your DualSense controller.
- Begin by powering off your PS5 console.
- Locate the small hole on the back of your PS5 controller. Press a paperclip to hold the Reset button inside the hole for approximately 5 seconds to reset the controller.
- Once the DualSense controller has fully disconnected, turn the PS5 console back on.
Try to use the controller again to see if the drift is still happening.
6. Contact Sony Customer Support
If nothing has worked, as long as your controller is still under warranty and you have your receipt, you can exchange it at the point of purchase.
You can also go to the PlayStation.com Fix and Replace page and initiate your return process.
When you select the DualSense controller, you will be guided through a series of questions that will allow you to diagnose the issue with the controller and set up the return process.
Wrap-Up: PS5 Controller Drift
We hope this guide was helpful to you in alleviating the frustrating DualSense controller drift problem.
On a final note, we wanted to mention that you should not go more drastic than the suggested steps.
You would not want to take the controller apart as you risk further damage and voiding your warranty. Don’t clean your sensitive controller with water of any sort.
Overall, you can reduce any controller damage by simply treating it with care and storing it in a safe location when not used. And yes, that means not throwing it across the room when you are aggravated.