Solution 4: The Really Nuclear Option - Stick Disassembly
What you’ll need:
- A pair of super thin pliers or a small slotted screwdriver
- A pair of strong, thin tweezers
- Alcohol (to clean the contacts)
- A cotton bud/Q-tip
Firstly, don’t do this. Seriously, it’s more trouble than it’s worth and it’s much easier to simply replace the stick. You’ll need the proper tools, a sterile workplace, a strong arm and the steadiest of hands if you’re to avoid introducing more dust and detritus into the thing than you clear away. Get yourself a new stick and save yourself a headache.
Still here? Hmm. Fine, you’re as stubborn as we were, so we’ll show you the steps. It involves bending metal and then crimping it as close as possible to the original position. Last chance!
Okay, let’s do this…
1. Firstly, you’ll need to bend back the two clips either side of the base so that they’re free from the black plastic ‘teeth’ gripping them. This is the only easy part.
2. Next, you’ll need to work your tweezers or screwdriver under the tabs clamping the backplate to the plastic. You can do this from either end, although it’s easier to get under the sides of the end with the two clamps. Try to avoid stabbing yourself or ripping the ribbon cable.
3. Once the backplate is unclipped, turn over the unit so the stick is facing down – you don’t want the plastic contents emptying over your workspace. Carefully prise the backplate away until you can push it away from the rear clip.
4. Now you’ve separated the main assembly from the backplate, it’s time to clean the contacts – the tiny metal parts of the main assembly and the corresponding areas on the ribbon. These were the parts we were trying to clean from the outside with Solution 2 and it's wear-and-tear here which is arguably the cause for the whole 'drift' debacle. You may find it easier to take apart the stick assembly but take note of where everything goes – it’s fiddly to put back together.
5. All clean? Now, to reassemble everything! Holding the plastic part so it doesn’t empty its contents everywhere, clip the backplate on one end (if you’re having trouble use your tweezers or pliers to bend back the single-clipped end a little) and carefully press down until the backplate’s flat again. This is easier said than done because you’re fighting against the spring. Patience and perseverance.
6. Once the clip is back over the black plastic, use your pliers to carefully crimp the backplate and get it looking as close as possible to how it did at the start. They'll never sit completely flush, but the clips should do their job well enough. Press the side clips in again over the plastic teeth and – hopefully – you’ve just repaired your analogue stick without stabbing yourself in the hand with a screwdriver or losing a vital component along the way. Reassemble the Joy-Con and you're good to go.
So, hopefully one of these solutions worked for you and saved you some dollar. Have you had any success with these solutions? Are there any other methods you’ve used to salvage malfunctioning controllers? Let us know in the comments.
Further reading: Guide: How To Fix A Drifting Nintendo Switch Pro Controller