How To Fix Your Broken Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons

How To Fix Your Broken Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons
Image: Kotaku

I’d had my Switch for roughly a week or two when I noticed that my right Nintendo Switch Joy-Con could be removed without pressing the button. At first I ignored it, but then I found the Switch Joy-Con had removed itself while travelling around in my backpack.

On the small grey lock mechanism was a tiny chip. Somehow, part of the plastic had either been sheared off, or had moulded around the lock.

Concerned, I rang Nintendo. It didn’t really affect gameplay, but I didn’t want it to get worse. I received a tentative “from your description, it has occurred from misuse” reply. I’d had the Switch for a month, and was fairly unhappy about the response.

I couldn’t really prove it wasn’t from misuse unfortunately, so I figured that I would get nowhere fast.

So I went to Big W, who was more than happy to help. I’d have sent the entire Switch to Nintendo for repairs, but I couldn’t guarantee it would return with the save files or the games I’d downloaded. I also didn’t want to be without a Switch for a long time; I’ve heard repairs can take a while.

Frustrated and not wanting to spend more on separate Joy-Cons, considering I only used the Switch as advertised, I did some research. As it turns out, this was a common problem – just not common enough for Nintendo to do anything about it. So I decided to fix the Joy-Cons myself.


Items needed

Joy-Cons (preferably the chipped one)
Thermoplastic (I used plastimake, but it was not the one to use)
A tri screwdriver
A small star screw driver
Selley’s plastic glue (this is what I ended up using)

Time taken: 30 minutes.

Warning: The plastimake didn’t work as it does not have a sticky composition. Other thermoplastic that cosplayers will be familiar with, such as Worbla’s, has a sticky side and will stick to most materials. Had I used Plastimake before, I would have known this and would have used Worbla’s instead.

How To Fix A Broken Switch Controller

Firstly, remove all the screws. The screws are tiny so I used a strong magnet to store them on top of (that is what the red thing is.)

How To Fix A Broken Switch Controller

After that, remove the one small screw holding the bar in place. In reality, you don’t have to remove these, but I wanted to be able to see what I was working on clearly.

Having messed around with the plastimake to no avail, I used some Selley’s All Plastic glue (and it must be all plastic; other glues can dislodge over time). Be very careful. I used a skewer to grab a small drop of the glue to place it exactly where the chip was.

The glue filled the chip and dries hard and clear, making it perfect for repairing the locking mechanism. Once the glue had dried, the Joy-Cons attached as per normal.

If you have a bit more know-how, one could replace the locking mechanism completely. But I’m happy with how it turned out; it’s such a tiny thing to fix, but it could have completely ruined my Switch.

Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for a DIY solution for Joy-Con drift, there’s a great solution here.

Comments

  • It is a commen problem eb games swapped mine out for me no questions asked and now I see my second pair are getting loose aswell …

    • Yep same here. Rocked up to EBs where I bought it, and they gave me a brand new set of Joy Cons no questions asked. Got me some of the fluro yellow ones…..they look great!!

      I’d always buy my hardware from EB Games now purely for that one experience.

  • If you’d prefer to replace the locking mechanism entirely, you can 3D print the part fairly easily. I made a video of this process about 3 weeks ago, but I’m not sure if the URL will just get deleted here so for the curious you can find it by searching “DIY Joycon Lock Repair – Fix your broken Joycon with 3D printing” on YouTube.

  • My Switch has had some abuse due to thankless wanker relatives and I’ve never had any problems with the Joycon rails. Sounds like they’re flat out dodging a warranty issue, which I’ve had first hand experience with. I had to get a refund over a game that had undisclosed flashing/seizure type stuff and Nintendo wanted me to record the flashing gameplay to show them even though developers had acknowledged the fault. I asked them bluntly why they wanted me to subject myself to a seizure because they couldn’t read the materials I’d sent them in the email. About a week later they approved it with no video required, presumably after their in house lawyer facepalmed. Nintendo’s warranty department needs an ACCC arse kicking.

    • Nintendo is fairly fucked in this regard. The family company, who know dam well that the ACCC will slap them down if they don’t follow the rules. But they will try a corporate bluff as their first course of action.

      • Nintendo is one of those companies that has such a shit attitude to consumer law that I will recommend physical editions of things 100% of the time. At least the bricks and mortar stores here have no issues with refunds for defects or misleading advertising. EB Games and JB have never given me trouble on returns for these things and nor has Amazon for that matter. Nintendo, Sony and Steam jump up and down (Steam’s due for another ACCC arse handing as well for continuing to disregard the ACL, which they aren’t following). Can’t comment on MS because I haven’t dealt with their customer support in years.

    • Oh they were totally trying to place all the blame on me. Luckily it doesn’t impact my playing too much. The glue did eventually dislodge after about a month or so, which sucks, but my thumb stick is still going strong.
      I will add, the tri screws are trash. they stripped so easily. -_-

      • They were trying to offload responsibility onto me as well, even after the developers of the game made official statements about the problem and their lack of desire to fix any of them. I told them that it was their problem now since they were continuing to sell a product with misleading product information on their storefront and I’d be making an ACCC if it wasn’t sorted out. They definitely try it on for everyone with a complaint. It’s even worse with hardware because they’ll charge you for the privilege of an inspection anyway.

        I can believe that. My bro took a look at the iFixit guides for the Joycon and said he didn’t want to touch it with a barge pole.

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