Over time the analog sticks on the Nintendo Switch's joycons tend to fail, usually resulting in drift (i.e. it generates movement despite the stick being dead centre).
This used to be an issue on N64 controllers too, though in fairness to Nintendo the sticks do take a hell of a beating, particularly if you're playing Super Smash Bros. On the other hand, outside of the 2 year warranty period Nintendo are downright predatory on their pricing for what's actually quite a simple fix.
This documentation details how to replace the analogue stick on a Nintendo Switch Joycon - there's a video of the process at the bottom for those who prefer video tutorials
All images are clicky.
You will Need
- 2mm Tri-Wing Screwdriver
- 1.5mm Phillips head screwdriver (flat head will work at a push)
- Pair of needle nose tweezers
- Container to hold screws (mine's got big fat magnets on the bottom)
Although I've already got a Tri-wing set, I ordered this kit from Amazon and it came with all of the above (apart from the screw holder)
Start by making sure the software on your Joycons is up to date (there have historically been software induced drift issues)
Do this by going
System Settings ->
Controllers and Sensors ->
If you've still got drift issues, then power the switch off and proceed.
Dismantling the Joycon
Detach the joycon from the switch and lay it face down. There are 4 tri-wing screws to remove
The two halves of the controller body clip together, so using a finger nail (or a spudger if you don't have nails) work around the seam carefully separating the two halves. Do not use a flathead screwdriver as you'll wreck the plastic.
The controller should now fold open exposing the battery
Depending on whether your joycon has been opened before, the battery may simply lift out. If it hasn't been opened though you may need to lever slightly as they use double-sided tape to hold them in - a carefully used flathead can be helpful here but be extremely careful not to accidentally puncture the battery.
Once loose you should be able to move the battery out of the way (the tape is just visible in the top left of the battery compartment in this photo)
In the photo above you can see that 2 of the 4 screws in the centre are gold. These need to be removed, leaving the silver ones in place. There's also a third gold screw in the top right corner (obscured by the battery in the image above).
Once these are removed the battery compartment can be swung out of the way (the shoulder button may pop out, as below)
Now there are 2 Ribbon cables to remove from their connectors (circled below)
The means of disconnecting differs between the two. The top one in the image above slides straight out, whilst the lower one in the image has a small clip (the grey bit) which you must carefully flip back.
So, using your needle-nosed tweezers carefully pull the top ribbon cable to the left (assuming you're orientated like the image).
Then carefully flip the grey clip back and slide the bottom cable out
There are 2 phillips headed screws holding the analog stick in place, undo these to be able to remove the old stick
There's a seal so be careful pulling the stick out, you may need to tip it slightly to allow it to pass through.
Re-assembly really is just the reverse of disassembly, but with a little bit of additional frustration mixed in.
Get your replacement stick and carefully put it into place. Be sure to support the shell of the controller when putting the screws for the stick back in (otherwise you'll just press it back out of place again).
With the stick screwed back into place, it's time to face the frustration of getting the ribbon cables back in. Using whatever suits you best - tweezers or fingers - move the top ribbon cable up to the connector (remembering to go under the battery compt ribbon cable) and manouevre it back in.
This can take some time/patience/swearing but eventually it should slide in.
The lower cable is a little simpler, press it against the connector and slide it forwards a little. Then with a fingernail/tweezers, flip the grey clip back over (the frustration here comes from the habit of knocking the clip when trying to get the cable in place).
Either way, it should all be connected together again
If you knocked the shoulder button out of place, that needs re-seating. Get the end furthest from the spring aligned first, making sure the lip on the button sits inside the shell.
Then make sure the spring presses back against the stop.
When positioned correctly, the button should sit in the open shell without popping back out
From here on, it's quite simple:
- Flip the battery compartment back into place (making sure it's sat over the shoulder button correctly and isn't trapping any cables)
- Put the battery back into place
- Put the 3 gold screws back in place
- Press the 2 halves of the shell back together
- Put the 4 tri-wing screws back in
This should leave you with a re-assembled joycon
Although you've changed the stick, it's probably not correctly calibrated yet. So, clip it back onto the switch and power on.
System Settings ->
Controllers and Sensors ->
Calibrate Control Sticks and follow the instructions on screen.
Here's a video demonstrating the above process