The DualShock 4 is a fantastic reimagining of the classic PlayStation controller and feels great in the hand, however, it has one really annoying design flaw. The rubberized tops of the analog sticks tend to tear themselves apart, especially with prolonged use. This happens because the hard plastic of the analog sticks pushes upwards into the rubber while your thumbs are busy pushing down, this creates some really horrible tearing of the rubber.
Most people will tend to notice the tearing on the left stick as that is usually the one doing the hard work. (Movement etc.). I’ve extensively played Bloodborne and Metal Gear Solid 5, both of which make heavy usage of the left stick. Now my controller looks like it’s been ravaged by some kind of animal and feel even worse. I’ve recently been playing Monster Hunter World, but I know if I was to use this controller as is, my thumb would be slipping off the stick all the time.
So, how do you replace PS4 analog sticks? The best way to replace PS4 analog sticks is to open the DualShock 4, remove and replace the damaged sticks. There are options like third party ‘Thumb grips’ which can slide on top (and probably fall back off due to the degradation of the rubber) but in my opinion, this looks quite tacky and don’t feel right.
In this guide, I will show you how to open, disassemble the PS4 controller and replace the analog sticks.
For this guide you will need the following:
1 x Small Philips head screwdriver (I used size 1.5)
Replacement analog sticks (I got mine from Amazon)
Turn your DualShock 4 over and we will need to remove the four Philips head screws. These are the only screws holding the two halves of the controller together. Now, be careful with these screws, they are made from quite a soft metal. Once the screws are out you can carefully ‘split’ open the two halves. I find a spudger can help here to pry open the seam between the top and the bottom parts of the controller but is non-essential.
The best areas to start are either the divide at the bottom of the controller handles or near the headphone jack.
Slowly work your way around the controller until it separates. There are clips inside holding everything together and they are pretty hardy so chances of breaking them are slim. Lift the underside of the controller prying back towards the shoulder buttons like below. If you are lucky you will be able to remove one halve easily, unlike me who knocked off my L2 button, Spring and the reset button!
If you have managed to knock off any buttons, put them aside and we will reassemble them later.
Now, be careful when separating as there is a ribbon cable from the main board going to the controller’s light bar!
Also, I was surprised by how much dirt and grim had got stuck inside my controller! Now might be a good time to clean the controller with some isopropyl alcohol.
Before we go any further we will want to disconnect the battery from the main board. Find the white connector next to the battery and wiggle it upwards and it should pop out. You will then be able to remove the battery from the battery housing and set aside.
Side Note: Sony decided to only include 1000mAh battery inside the DS4. You can upgrade the battery to have twice the capacity. If you want to double your controller’s battery life you can pick up a higher capacity battery here
With the battery removed, we can now remove that ribbon cable! To remove the ribbon cable, you can gently pull up on the blue tab. Once that is removed you can set the back side of the controller aside.
Next, we move onto the battery housing. Either side of the black battery housing is clipped down to the PCB. To remove the housing we will need to insert a screwdriver carefully into the little hole and gently push outwards. Do this on both sides and we will be able to remove the housing.
On the top corner of the main board, we will find another ribbon cable. Pull towards yourself on the white tab to free the ribbon cable. You will then be able to pull up on the ribbon cable to unplug it.
There is one more Philips head screw holding the main board down. Remove that and set aside. You will now be able to lift out the PCB. I highly advise you keep the rest of the controller face down, this is so you do not end up with buttons everywhere. Gravity is your friend here and will help to keep everything in the right place.
Turn your board over and you will now have access to the analog sticks. To remove the old sticks, you simply pull up on them. You may require a little force here.
Once removed you will be able to replace the analog sticks with your replacements. Underneath the sticks you will notice they have an almost rectangular indent, so you cannot install these incorrectly. Push the replacements back into place where the originals were. You can test out that L3 & R3 click in at this point. If they do then congratulations, you have successfully replaced your analog sticks.
Put everything back together. Place the PCB back into the controller and secure with the screw removed earlier. Be careful not to over tighten this screw, you will naturally fell where it wants to stop.
Push back in the ribbon cable at the top of the controller and close the white tab. Line up and clip in the black battery housing, you simply just push down on either side and it will click back into place onto the PCB.
Now, remember the reset button that fell out earlier? Well, its time to put that back into place. It fits directly into the hold on the battery housing. You should be able to push it down and feel a tactile response.
Next up is the L2 button and spring. This is kind of hard to explain so, here we go! Either side of the L2 button you will see a cylindrical tube which the middle part of the spring can slide onto. Once on we can insert the button with spring attached into place. The spring should naturally sit in a small well in the controller like below.
Next, we reinstall the battery by putting it back into the housing and connecting it back to the DualShock 4’s main board.
Grab the other half of the controller and plug the ribbon cable back into the main board. Use the blue tab to get a firm grip on the cable and wiggle it back into place.
Close the case back together starting by lining up the shoulder buttons and push back together. Your controller may get stuck with the posts for the screws in the handles. Just gently push them inwards. With that, everything should be able to clip back together.
Finally, you can put back the four screws into the back of the controller making sure not to over tighten.
Replacing the analog sticks in the PS4’s DualShock 4 controller is quite straightforward, will save you having to buy a new controller and doesn’t take much time at all. The hardest part is actually getting the shell open and it took me a couple of minutes to get the back part of the shell off from the shoulder buttons.
While researching how to take apart my DS4 controller, I found out that the analog sticks can be switched out with replacement Xbox One sticks if you prefer. They have the same type of innards so can be connected without any modification. Personally, I prefer to keep things as close to the original as possible but, it’s nice to have the option.
Overall, I am very happy with how my controller turned out and I plan to make a video on replacing my second PS4 controller’s analog sticks which I will link to this article once complete.