One of the more common and annoying problems with heavily used Xbox 360 controllers are when the analog sticks become “loose”. The analog stick(s) do not stay centered as a result, causing the controller to register random inputs during gameplay. Eventually, this becomes too much of a nuisance, making the controller undesirable for use.
Looking for a solution, I did a quick search for viable replacement switches. I expected prices for the switches to be somewhat excessive, making the repair unreasonable as opposed to buying a brand new controller. Though, I was surprised to see that the switches were not expensive at all. In fact, I was able to order ten switches, along with free shipping, for just $4.99 on eBay (at the time of writing, they’re now $7.99 – still quite inexpensive).
The repair does require some soldering experience. I recommend using solder wick to remove the existing solder joints. Be cautious not to accidentally melt any components or plastic parts while attempting the repair.
There are 14 pins (per switch) that need to be desoldered. The solder joints of the left analog switch are partially covered by the left trigger mechanism. In order to remove the trigger mechanism, the trigger’s potentiometer, which holds the part of the plastic mechanism down to the PCB, needs to be temporarily desoldered and removed first. There are three solder joints located on the front of the board, right below the left analog switch. Once the potentiometer is removed, the mechanism can then be removed by pushing back the two clips holding on to the PCB.
Once all 14 joints have been desoldered, the switch should be able to be removed. The new switch should easily slide in into the vacant holes and ready to be soldered back onto the PCB. Here, I used solder flux to help clean the points and easily solder back the pins to the board.
The controller works well now! I have roommates, friends and family that also have this problem, so I look forward to making use of the rest of these switches.