Console Gaming

How to Replace Defective DualShock 4 Analog Sticks

I love the Dual Shock 4 controller, but man are the analog sticks terrible. If they don’t melt and stick to your thumbs, they tear over a relatively short period of time. If you have small kids in the house, they also find it fun to stab their finger nails into the sticks and rip away the rubbery material as well. Look at how nasty my left analog stick turned out:

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So what options do you have? You could sell the controller for barely half of what you paid for it, use it for parts, or trash it if it’s not worth your trouble. Another option I discovered is that you can actually buy replacement analog sticks for a few bucks that can swapped out. The process is somewhat easy if you have experience with taking stuff apart. Or if you know someone, maybe you can use these instructions either way:

First, you need to have the right tools for the job.

  • Small tipped Philips head screwdriver (an eyeglass repair kit screwdriver should work also)
  • Plastic pry tool
  • Pliers
  • Confidence

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Once you have tools ready, I would strongly recommend working in a clean static-free area and on a hard surface. If you do this sort of work on your bedroom carpet, you are just asking to lose or damage something. Common sense goes a long way!

1. There are four screws on the bottom of the controller, nothing hidden behind stickers. Go ahead and unscrew them and place them out of the way. They are tiny, try not to lose them.

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2. This is probably the most scary part believe it or not. Once the screws are removed, the controller will still be “snapped” together. You are going to have to CAREFULLY use your pry tool, and pry open the controller, starting from the handled sections, then work your way up to the analog stick area where you can see the charge port. Be extremely careful when working your way up to where the should buttons and triggers are. You do not need to remove the triggers at all. Just pry the handled part of the controller first and work your way up to prying the trigger and shoulder button area last. If a trigger does accidentally pop out, a tiny spring will pop out with it. The spring is incredibly small and is a little tricky to put back in, but it’s not impossible. It happened to me when I opened mine. Just put the spring on the inner part and snap the trigger back onto the hinged area and everything should be fine.

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It’s a little hard to see the spring, it basically a thin piece of metal with one loop in it. Be careful not to lose this spring, otherwise you are going to end up with a floppy analog trigger that won’t work.

3. Once you have the back of the case pried apart, be careful about the ribbon cable going from the controller light to the circuit board. You can easily slide this ribbon cable out, just be careful not to twist it up too much or you might damage it.

4. You should now be able to clearly see the controller’s circuit board with its battery on top. Go ahead and carefully unplug the battery and set that aside. (As a bonus, you can actually replace the battery with a higher capacity one.)

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4. There is also a small ribbon cable with a blue handle piece attached. Go ahead and carefully unplug it. If you can’t grab it with your fingers, grab the blue handle piece with your pliers and slide it out gently.

5. Inside of the battery compartment, you will see one tiny black screw that is holding the entire circuit board in place. Unscrew that screw and be careful not to lose it.

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6. You can now pop the circuit board out and replace the analog sticks! The analog sticks can slide off of the metal poles that they are on. Just remove them and slide on your new replacement analog sticks. I used these Xbox One analog sticks that I ordered online and they fit 100% perfect for me.

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7. Once you slide your new analog sticks on. Test them out a little by making sure there isn’t an unnecessary wobble or loose fit of some sort. You can try putting a thin layer of electrical tape on the pole of the analog stick if you want a more snug fit. Mine fit like a glove and it wasn’t necessary. You want to make sure you do everything right the first time, since prying the controller apart all over again can be a bit of an unnecessary risk or a hassle in general.

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8. When putting your controller back together. Don’t forget to attach the 3 cables inside.

  • The small blue tabbed cable going to the circuit board.
  • The battery cable.
  • The ribbon cable going to the LED light.
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Behold the glory of a Dual Shock 4 with the awesome quality analog sticks of the Xbox One!

9. Make sure you snap the controller together in the same way you pried it apart the first time. Attach the shouldered side first and use extra care when working around the analog triggers, or a trigger and spring might pop out and get lost. Working in a clean area over a hard surface is helpful for finding something lost if a situation like this happens. (If you do happen to lose a spring or damage a trigger, you can buy a replacement part here.)

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You are all set! Here is a side-by-side comparison shot of my new and improved controller and a normal one. There is a slight height difference as you can see in the picture above, but you can barely notice it while playing. I played a few hours of Rocket League with my new controller and I can’t stress enough how awesome it feels. You can also buy custom analog sticks that are made out of aluminum and you can also get them in virtually any color.

Have you done this mod or something similar? Share your experience in the comments!




Edward Hyman

Besides gaming, I'm really into technology in general.