Common PS3 Controller Problems and How to Fix Them

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Common PS3 Controller Problems and How to Fix Them

Sony PlayStation 3 controllers are great tools for gameplay, and even serve as a remote controller for people who want to watch a Blu-ray on the console, so much so that it's hard to call them a home theater or gaming accessory. After a bit of use, PS3 controllers are prone to the occasional malfunction where a button refuses to work or a trigger gets stuck. While frustrating, it's sometime easy to troubleshoot the problem.


About PS3 Controllers

The earliest versions of the PS3 were shipped with Sixaxis, the official controller until 2008, when it was replaced with the DualShock 3. The motion-sensing Sixaxix includes two analog sticks, two analog triggers, six pressure-sensitive buttons, a D-Pad and five digital buttons. The controller has Bluetooth connectivity. The DualShock 3 looks pretty much the same, but added back haptic feedback that had been dropped in the Sixaxis because of a lawsuit. Other than the naming, it's a bit heavier and sturdier.

A PlayStation 3 controller comes in many colors in addition to black.

Common Problems

A common problem for PlayStation users is when a controller won't connect to the PlayStation 3, usually indicated by blinking lights on the controller. Others in the PlayStation community also frequently report trouble with the rumble feature. Users occasionally have problems with the timing and intensity of this feature, and some gamers have encountered issues where the vibration feature isn't working at all. And another frequent frustration is when the controller fails to charge, won't charge, or won't sync with the PlayStation when the unit is powered on. 


Troubleshooting Tips and Solutions

Once a problem has been identified, some simple fixes can be attempted. Many problems with PS3 controllers can be fixed by performing the following steps:

1. Connect the controller to the console using the USB cable.

2. Press the "PS" button found in the center of the controller.

3. Disconnect the USB cable from the console.

4. Press the "PS" button again.

5. The lights should blink quickly and then go out. This indicates that the controller is now synced with the PlayStation 3.

This procedure frequently resolves problems involving charging and connection; even Bluetooth issues have been corrected by using this method. The common problem of seeing four blinking red lights on the controller indicates that the controller needs to be re-synchronized with the PlayStation console. In this case, the method described above is usually sufficient to solve the problem. If this method doesn't work, turn the controller over and check the back for a small hole. Unfold a paperclip and press the tip into the hole to perform a hard reset of the controller. It's easy and will work virtually every time.

A malfunctioning joystick is likely caused by a buildup of dirt and crumbs in the area where the joystick is housed. To correct this problem, remove the back from the controller and carefully clean out the inside. You can accomplish this by unfolding a paperclip and scraping away grime, or gently using a Q-Tip to clean the area.

If the problem involves the controller not holding a charge, it's likely that the battery is nearly dead. The only effective solution is to replace the battery. Many posts online offer details on where to find a replacement battery and how to install it.

Another problem people in the community have is with the joystick, which may lead to random button pushes when used. In this case, remove the five screws from each hole in the back of the controller and carefully lift the back off to so you can keep the rear triggers in place. You'll need to remove the motherboard, lift the ribbon there and replace the cushion behind it.



Preventative Maintenance

In addition to learning how to solve typical controller problems, it's also helpful to learn how to prevent them. Many issues with PS3 controllers actually occur because dust accumulates on the console over time. To avoid this, store the console in a cabinet or home theater entertainment center, or cover the console with a cloth when it's not in use.

Overheating is another common cause of controller problems. If the system seems to be getting too hot, shut it off for a few hours and give the controller a chance to cool. Using the PlayStation in an air-conditioned room will reduce the risk of overheating. Always check your PlayStation 3 each time you turn it on to make sure it doesn't need a firmware update. While the machine worked fine months ago, once you disconnect it from the Internet and turn it off, it no longer checks for updates.

A PS3 controller's battery will last longer with proper charging techniques. To prolong the life of the battery, wait until the battery is almost dead to charge it, and charge the battery until it is full each time.


Replacing a PS3 Controller

If the DIY troubleshooting techniques fail to fix the PS3 controller problem, there may be a more complex problem with the controller's hardware or tiny internal circuitry. Gamers can attempt to get the failing device professionally repaired. In some cases, it may be more economical to replace the controller instead of investing in repairs. This solution is usually the best bet when the controller won't even turn on. The PlayStation community typically offers troubleshooting tips on how to properly repair or dispose of a game controller.


Buying PS3 Controllers on eBay

Shoppers looking to buy PS3 controllers on eBay will find a wide variety of both new and used items, including the Sixaxis and DualShock 3 controllers. Because the Sixaxis controller has been discontinued, eBay offers one of the only ways to obtain a replacement for this older model. Members of the PlayStation community can also search for a dedicated Sony remote control for watching a Blu-ray or DVD. Users can also find items such as the Sony PSP, 40GB or 60GB PS3, Nintendo GameCube, and Nintendo 3DS. Also, be sure to check game posts on a particular item so you won't have any problems expanding your collection.

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