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How to replace Xbox One controller thumbsticks

Xbox controller
Xbox controller (Image credit: Windows Central)

Xbox One controllers wear out a lot quicker than you'd like, especially if you're a heavy gamer. But, before you go running to buy a new one, think about repairing the one you have. If it still fundamentally works as it should but something is broken or worn, you can save a bundle by doing a home repair job.

In the case of the thumbsticks, they're prone to wearing out, or worse, since they're only plastic. If you need to replace them, it's not actually that difficult.

Here's everything you need to know.

What you need

The latter two items are useful for other things, too, and they'll be universal for any repair or customization work you do on your Xbox One Controller. You can get a toolkit with both in (opens in new tab) for about $10.

A pair of regular black thumbsticks is about $10, but in swapping them out you could also go for some different colors or styles (opens in new tab). As long as they're compatible with the Xbox One controller, the method remains the same.

How to replace Xbox One controller thumbsticks

Because the thumbsticks are on the front and all the screws to hold the controller together are on the back, you'll need to do a complete teardown by following these steps.

  1. Remove the battery door.
  2. Remove the batteries from the controller.

Xbox One Controller

  1. Use the plastic pry tool to detach the rear grips from the controller body. (Once you've separated them, pull firmly to remove them from the body.)

Xbox One Controller

  1. You now have five screws to remove as shown in the image with the T8 screwdriver. (The fifth is located beneath the battery label so you'll have to pierce it or remove it entirely.)

Xbox One Controller

  1. Pull the backplate away from the controller body.

Xbox One Controller

  1. Flip the controller around and pull the faceplate away from the controller body.

Xbox One Controller

  1. Pull the thumbsticks straight up to detach from their poles.

Xbox One Controller

  1. Push your new thumbsticks down on the poles.
  2. Repeat the steps above in reverse to reassemble your controller.

Note, if you have an actual issue with the thumbstick mechanism, such as drift or misalignment, replacing the thumbsticks won't fix this. But if you've got some nasty looking worn sticks, for a few dollars and 15 minutes of your time, you'll be fixed up quickly.

How to add trigger stops to a regular Xbox One controller for just $20

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

10 Comments
  • The Torx T8 screwdriver has to be the security one, with the hollowed center? I remember looking into this at one point but learning that particular screwdriver was hard to find here.
  • If that's the case, you need to search for a TR8 bit rather than a T8. I don't know where you are, but it shouldn't be too hard to get online. Though you might need to buy a kit.
  • I know, when I researched this I had found the correct model and all. And it was something that I could get online, but it was rare enough that this particular variant was impossible to find locally, not even in any kit. I though it was weird.
  • Nice to know. Sadly most of my controllers get drift before I even notice that I need new thimbsticks
  • That's my problem too. And to fix the drift, you need to replace the whole controller electronics, don't you? What a bother :s But I thought of doing it myself to cut on costs.
  • I'd rather get a new controller.
  • Sure, but it is way more expensive.
  • I'm surprised that they didn't include the pry tool and screw driver with the thumb sticks, like they do with cell phone screen repair kits.
  • For most joypads you don't need a pry tool, that is probably why.
  • The perfect article, I was hesitating in taking part my day one edition xbox one controller when the thumb stick wears out. Hence why I've been using ps3 pads (not motioninjoy drivers). Book marked.