How to Fix an Analog Stick on Your PS3 Controller

By Michael J. Scott

Things Needed

  • DualShock 3 motherboard
  • Phillips screwdriver

Sony's PlayStation 3 gaming console is controlled by a patented DualShock 3 controller. The Bluetooth controller has several face buttons and two analog sticks. Because the analog sticks most frequently are used for controlling on-screen characters, the parts tend to suffer the most damage. If one of your analog sticks is malfunctioning, you may be able to fix it. Because the analog sticks are permanently connected to the DualShock 3's motherboard, you need to replace the entire motherboard. The biggest hurdle is acquiring a new motherboard. If you can find one, a screwdriver is all you need to repair the controller.

Acquire a DualShock 3 motherboard. Unfortunately, Sony does not sell DualShock 3 motherboards, even to repair outlets. You may be able to purchase a nonfunctioning DualShock 3 from eBay to scavenge the motherboard from it. The problems with these controllers often are only cosmetic damages or dead batteries. If in doubt, ask the seller if the motherboard is functional. "As is" DualShock 3 controllers typically can be purchased for about $20.

Ensure the DualShock 3's battery is completely discharged. Leave the controller on until the battery has completely run out. Opening the DualShock 3 with a charged battery can create a risk of electric shock.

Place the controller face down. Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the five screws along the back cover of the controller.

Lift up the lower edge of the back cover and push it slightly forward until it clears the bottom trigger buttons. Use light pressure and move slowly to keep from accidentally popping off one of the trigger buttons. After the back cover has cleared the trigger buttons, remove it from the controller.

Lift the battery off the motherboard. Disconnect the battery cable from the motherboard.

Remove the single Phillips screw that holds the motherboard to the front cover of the DualShock 3.

Slide the right side trigger button assembly slightly out and away from the front cover. Pop the "R1" button off the assembly. Don't remove the "R2" button. Repeat the process for the left side trigger assembly.

Locate the vibration motors in the lower handle area of the front cover. Pull the right side motor away from the front cover. Repeat the process for the left motor. The motors are soldered to the motherboard; don't pull the cables off yet. Remove the motors from their retaining brackets.

Pull the motherboard away from the front cover to remove it. Attached to the motherboard is the button input board.

Push the vibration motors out of their slots on the input board. Lift the input board off the motherboard.

Repeat the above steps for the "As is" DualShock 3.

Remove the motherboard from the "As is" DualShock 3. Connect the old input board to it. Reassemble the old controller by reversing the disassembly steps. Connect the DualShock 3 to the PlayStation 3 and fully charge the battery. Turn on the system and test the fixed controller.

Tip

New or used DualShock 3's often can be purchased for about $40, though buying a new controller lacks the satisfaction of fixing the problem yourself.

About the Author

Michael Scott is a freelance writer and professor of justice studies at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is a former prosecutor. Scott has a J.D. from Emory University and is a member of the Utah State Bar. He has been freelancing since June 2009, and his articles have been published on eHow.com and Travels.com.