Image via PlayStation

How to fix PS5 DualSense analog stick drift

Here are several tips to try to solve your controller issues.

You can call it planned obsolescence or just gaming too much with “Cheetos fingers,” but either way, gaming peripherals wear out over time. Your favorite gaming mouse may start becoming unresponsive after years of serving you well and your PS5 DualSense controller can develop a drifting issue on its own.

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Analog stick drifting causes your point of view to slightly shift while playing games. This can happen slowly in a drifting manner or in a snappier way if something is pushing back against your analog stick. While getting a new controller will always be the ultimate fix, the $69.99 price tag of the DualSense controller makes purchasing one less appealing.

Considering you can get a AAA game during its launch period for that money, trying to fix your controller first before buying a new one will always be the smartest course of action.

Here’s how you can potentially fix your DualSense controller’s analog stick drift.

Reset your DualSense controller

Players are more in touch with the software side of things while playing PS5. The whole experience is possible due to an impressive set of hardware, though. As advanced as the tech behind the DualSense and PS5 is, things may get buggy over time.

Resetting has been the top fix to get rid of all sorts of bugs and errors, and it can also fix your analog stick drift issue.

You’ll need an unfolded paper clip or a SIM card ejector tool that comes out of the box when you buy a phone to complete the following process.

  • Pick up one of these items or anything similar, and look for a tiny hole that contains a button on the back of your DualSense controller.
    • This hole has a button inside that’ll force your DualSense to perform a factory reset.
  • After the reset, your controller won’t be picked up by your console, meaning you’ll also need your charging cable to connect it to your PS5.

This method has been one of the primary fixes of the same issue for DualShock 4 controllers and it’s still a great alternative to try out before moving on to other methods.

Clean your analog sticks

Even if you don’t use your controller that much, the dust can still build up under your analog sticks. Using it frequently may also cause this since even the most careful gamer can accidentally touch their controller with greasy hands. 

You should be able to see any dust or food remains that are giving your analog sticks a hard time by looking at them from different angles. You’ll need a toothpick or anything similar to remove them gently.

You can also use wet wipes during this process but make sure not to push them against your controller too much. Wet wipes tend to release more of their fluid upon exerting more force on them, which can damage your DualSense controller’s internals.

The same applies to alcohol wipes and any isopropyl alcohol cleaning methods. Though isopropyl alcohol is known for not harming electronics, too much of it can still cause problems. If you want to be extra careful around your controller and don’t trust yourself while cleaning it, you can try using cotton swabs that only absorb little amounts of isopropyl alcohol.

Alternatively, you could also take your controller apart to give it a more thorough cleaning. This is an advanced method, though, and may void your warranty depending on your supplier’s terms. We only recommend going down this route if your DualSense is out of warranty or isn’t covered for whatever reason.

Take off your thumb grips

Thumb grips are one of the best controller accessories, especially for shooting game players. While the highest quality of them will be a blast to use, the bottom of the barrel may be made out of plastic that significantly degrades over time.

This will cause your thumb sticks to either stick or get stuck to the corner of its movement area, which may cause a drifting effect. Sometimes this issue can be instantly recognizable due to how sticky it can get, but it may also fly under the radar.

To make sure that it isn’t your thumb grips that are playing mind games with you, take them off and see if it fixes the issue. You can snap them back on if it doesn’t fix the issue or look for alternatives if they were the root of your problems all along.

Make sure nothing is blocking your DualSense and PS5

Image via Sony

Bluetooth is advanced enough to register your inputs even if you’re in another room. It’s hard to vouch for its accuracy when that’s the case, however. You’ll need a clear line of sight between your DualSense controller and your PS5 so that your inputs don’t get interrupted by any obstacles.

Free up space around your PS5 and try sitting a little bit closer to see if it makes a difference. While this won’t fix any chronic drifting problems, it should do the trick if your commands linger longer than they should.

If you’re using a case on your DualSense, consider removing it to make sure it doesn’t cause any issues. You can put it back on after confirming that it makes no difference.

Turn Bluetooth on and off

There’s a slight chance that your DualSense is actually fine and it’s your PS5 that’s been giving you the runaround. While these machines are built for perfection, some hiccups along the way aren’t surprising to see.

There may be a Bluetooth connectivity error with your PS5, which may cause issues similar to analog drifting. Resetting this setting by simply turning it off and on should be enough to get things back to normal.

  • Head over to the Settings menu by clicking on the cog icon toward the top right corner of the main menu.
  • Head over to Accessories and Select General.
  • The option to turn off Bluetooth will be in the General tab, and you’ll also be able to turn it on through the same section.

Make sure that you have all the updates installed

It takes a while to perfect everything on the software end of things. When the PS5 was first launched, players were greeted with a notification that told them about an update that got rid of all possible bugs surrounding the DualSense controller. If you’ve skipped this by any chance or ignored any patches, you should go back to make sure that your system is up to date.

Check the notifications tab through the main screen to see if you have any updates available.

You can also manually check if your system is up to date:

  • Head over to the Settings menu through the cog icon in the PlayStation menu.
  • Select System.
  • Choose System Software Update and Settings option.
    • You’ll be able to set up automatic updates or search for any new ones manually through this section.

Open a warranty claim 

If you’ve only been using your controller for a little while and it’s still in the warranty period, you may have a faulty DualSense controller. Give a call to the place where you bought your PS5 and explain the situation to them.

You can also try contacting your local Sony support lines since there’s always a chance they may send you a new one without asking any questions to honor your warranty period in the best way possible.

Run tests to see if the new or the fixed controller still has the same analog drift problem. In any case that the problem pursues, you may also need to take your console back to see if there’s anything inside that could be causing such a problem. Warranty services and Sony should guide you through this process thoroughly.

If you’d like to pinpoint the issue yourself, you can try using your controller on another PS5 or a new controller with your console. Asking a friend who owns a PS5 will always be the easiest route to take, but you can also take your system to the shop you purchased it from and run the tests with the display models.

Though third-party controllers still aren’t in sight for the time being, you can also keep an eye on them if you’ve been out of luck with your DualSense controllers. Brands like Scuf and Razer had major success with their controller designs for PS4. These customized controllers also come with perks that can give you an advantage in certain games.

Most third-party controllers focus on build quality and competitive advantage. You may even find one that’s significantly cheaper than the DualSense controller. 

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Gökhan Çakır
Gökhan is a Staff Writer and Fortnite Lead at Dot Esports. Gökhan graduated as an industrial engineer in 2020 and has since been with Dot Esports. As a natural-born gamer, he honed his skills to a professional level in Dota 2. Upon giving up on the Aegis of Champions in 2019, Gökhan started his writing career, covering all things gaming, while his heart remains a lifetime defender of the Ancients.