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How To Take Apart Xbox One Controller In 7 Steps, With Photos

Hi there! Looking to breathe new life into an aging Xbox wireless controller? Opening it up and cleaning or replacing worn parts can fix many issues and save you money compared to buying a replacement. In this guide, I‘ll walk you step-by-step through the full disassembly process using common household tools. Follow along and you‘ll be able to clean and restore your controller to like-new condition.

According to Microsoft, over 10 million Xbox One consoles were sold just within its first year after launch. With an estimated failure rate of around 3.5% per year, potentially hundreds of thousands of faulty Xbox controllers end up in landfills annually. E-waste is a massive environmental issue, with Global E-Waste Monitor estimating 57.4 million tons generated worldwide in 2021. By repairing your existing controller instead of discarding it, you help reduce unnecessary electronic waste.

Repairing and cleaning controllers can also save you a lot of money. A new first-party wireless Xbox controller will cost $59.99 direct from Microsoft. However, you can fully restore the functionality of your existing controller for just the cost of a few tools and cleaning supplies – likely under $20 total. With some simple disassembly, cleaning, and replacement of any worn out parts, you can save money while also keeping more electronics in use and out of landfills.

Table 1 compares common tools that can be used to take apart the controller and highlights the ideal options:

Tool Ideal Option Alternatives
Prying tool Plastic pry tool Small flathead screwdriver
Screwdriver T8 Torx screwdriver Jeweler‘s Phillips screwdriver
Tweezers Anti-static tweezers Standard tweezers

The plastic tools help avoid damaging the controller‘s plastic housing, while the torx screwdriver properly fits the Xbox controller‘s screws. The ideal tools make the disassembly process smoother, but you can improvise with the alternatives in a pinch.

Ready to get started? Grab your tools and let‘s take apart your Xbox wireless controller step-by-step:

Step 1: Remove the Batteries

Before disassembling the controller, you need to remove the batteries to avoid accidental electrical shorts:

  1. Turn the controller over to access the battery compartment on the rear.

  2. Press down on the small battery cover release tab and slide the cover downward.

  3. Tilt the controller to allow the AA batteries to gently fall out of their compartments and into your hand.

  4. Set the batteries aside in a safe place during the repair process.

It‘s crucial to remove the batteries before proceeding, as they may get damaged or cause electrical issues if left connected during disassembly. Safety first!

Step 2: Detach the Controller Grips

The rubberized grip covers must be detached before the controller can be taken apart:

  1. Flip the controller upside down so you‘re looking at the bottom seam of the left grip cover.

  2. Take your plastic prying tool and gently insert the tip into the seam near one of the corners.

  3. Slowly twist the pry tool, working it along the seam to lift and pop the grip cover loose from the edge.

  4. Once you get one side started, continue running the prying tool around the perimeter of the grip to fully detach it.

  5. Repeat the process on the right grip cover to detach it.

Take it slowly and don‘t force the grips too hard – gentle leverage does the trick without cracking the plastic.

Step 3: Remove the Five Screws

With the grip covers removed, five screws are now accessible:

  • Two T8 Torx screws secured each grip cover, for four screws total.

  • A fifth screw is hidden under the warranty seal in the battery compartment.

  1. Use your T8 Torx screwdriver to remove the four exposed screws under the grips.

  2. For the hidden screw, make an X-shaped cut in the warranty seal with a small knife. Lift the flap to access the screw head.

  3. Carefully remove each screw and organize them on your work surface. The battery compartment screw is slightly smaller than the grip screws.

Double check that all five screws are fully removed before attempting to separate the controller shells.

Step 4: Separate the Front and Back Housing Shells

With no screws left, the front and back controller shells can now be detached:

  1. Flip the controller so the back side is facing up.

  2. Take the prying tool and gently insert the tip between the front and back housing seams near the LB and RB buttons.

  3. Slowly twist the pry tool to lift and separate the housing shells from one another.

  4. Work your way around the edge, applying even leverage, until the two halves detach.

  5. Turn over the controller and pull the front shell off, exposing the internal circuit board and components.

Patience and small movements are key to avoiding cracked plastic. Take your time and don‘t force it.

Step 5: Disconnect and Remove the Circuit Board

With the outer housing removed, the main circuit board can now be accessed:

  1. Flip up the small rubber covers on the rumble motors to uncover their securing screws. Remove the screws with the screwdriver and set them aside.

  2. Use tweezers to gently lift and disconnect the small ribbon cables for the shoulder buttons and triggers from their sockets on the board.

  3. Remove the two screws securing the board to the rear housing. Carefully lift out the board.

  4. Place the board component-side up on your work surface and detach any ribbons or cables still attached to it.

Be extremely gentle when handling ribbon cables – grab them by the connectors, not the wires, to avoid damage.

Step 6: Clean the Controller Components

With everything disassembled, you can now thoroughly clean each component:

  • Use cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol to scrub away grime from all the plastic parts, rubber buttons, circuit boards, and metal contacts.

  • Generously flush out dust from around and underneath the thumbsticks by pressing them in all directions during cleaning.

  • For sticky buttons, apply a bit of isopropyl alcohol directly underneath them and repeatedly press them down to free up movement.

  • Check the vibration motors by reconnecting them and powering on the controller to ensure they still rumble properly.

  • Closely inspect rubber parts on the triggers and thumbsticks for wear and tear. Replace them if severely damaged or worn out.

Thorough cleaning clears out accumulated dirt, dust, dead skin cells, and debris that can impede the controller‘s operation.

Step 7: Replace Any Worn Out Components

While cleaning, inspect components for damage and replace any that are too worn out:

  • Insert a new set of thumbstick modules if the rubber is ripped or they drift and don‘t recenter properly after cleaning.

  • Replace trigger springs that have lost tension or rattle loosely within the triggers.

  • Swap out any buttons that are cracked or fail to spring back into place after repeated presses.

Replacing worn parts is inexpensive compared to a new controller. For example, a pair of replacement thumbstick modules costs around $10-15.

Step 8: Reassemble the Controller

Once everything is clean and replaced as needed, simply reverse the disassembly steps to reassemble the controller:

  1. Reattach the cleaned circuit board into the rear housing and replace its two screws.

  2. Carefully reconnect the ribbon cables for the triggers and buttons onto their pins.

  3. Clip the rumble motors back into place and reinsert their screws.

  4. Align the front and back half shells and firmly press them together so the seams click into place.

  5. Working clockwise, securely tighten the five T8 screws back into their designated holes.

  6. Align and press the grip covers into place until they snap onto the grips.

  7. Insert the batteries and replace the battery cover.

Double check all screws are replaced and the grips are firmly clicked in before reconnecting the batteries.

After reassembly, power on the controller and test all buttons, thumbsticks, vibration, and triggers to ensure proper function before regular use. You may need to recalibrate and resync the controller in your Xbox settings.

With some basic tools, patience, and following these steps, you can successfully disassemble your Xbox One wireless controller for cleaning and repairs. You‘ll save money compared to replacement, reduce e-waste, and regain a like-new gaming experience.