PS4 How to: repair/replace Dualshock 4 Rumble motor
I recently found myself on the wrong end of a bad deal for a second hand DS4 purchase. What the seller had stated was “minor cosmetic damage” was actually a severely broken rumble motor that was rattling, probably after he had smashed the controller on the ground during some heated game.
I decided to use the opportunity to try and fix the rumble motor on my Dualshock 4. It turns out this wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, although it requires some minimal soldering skills. I insist on the “minimal skills” aspect here: I hadn’t used a solder iron since junior high (and that was a different century), and purchased a cheap one for this repair. Of all the things that require soldering in a PS4 or its controller, the rumble vibration motors are probably the easiest one to fix.
I won’t pretend this guide is actually better than the one I used myself, which can be found at ifixit. However I want to add some details and share some of the issues/tips I ran into while following that guide, as a complete noob.
Stuff you’ll need to replace a damaged Dualshock rumble motor
- a replacement motor (be careful, left and right have different weights. Know which one you want to replace)
- A soldering iron and some solder (alternatively, if you really don’t want to solder anything, you might want to try with tape, but don’t expect great results)
- Philips #000 screwdriver
- (optional) metal spudger
- (optional) tweezers
- (optional) solder helping hands
1. Open the DS4 Controller
First of all, you need to open the controller.
To open the controller, you need to unscrew the 4 screws behind the controller (easy), and then pry it open (harder, and that’s the part where you might break stuff). iFixIt recommend that you use a metal spudger for this: I agree, this will minimize the risk of damage. You could use your screwdriver as a lever (which I’ve done before), but in that case expect to put some ugly dents in the plastic case.
If you’ve never done that before, a bit of warning: the first time, it’s pretty difficult, and there’s a strong chance you’ll break some pieces of plastic inside the case (some square holes that maintain the two sides of the case together). To this day, I’m not sure if some of those pieces of plastic are in there especially for people to know that the controller has been opened before, or if there is a way to not break them. Case in point, the controller I have purchased had these pieces already broken: my seller had opened the DS4 and knew very well he was selling me a damaged product.
2. Unplug ribbon cables and battery
Once the two parts of the case are separated, you’ll want to 1) unplug the ribbon cable from the rear part of the case, which should allow you to set the rear plate aside, then 2) unplug the battery (you can pry the connector with your fingers or with dedicated tweezers.
Once the battery is removed, there is a 5th screw under it that you need to unscrew, in order to remove the front plate. You’ll also need to remove another ribbon cable before you can properly separate the front plate from the plastic and the motherboard.
3. Get the broken rumble out
Now that both faces of the plastic case are removed, you should be able to get the broken rumble motor out. iFixIt state: “With some added pressure, push down and outward in order to free and remove the rumble motors from their socket.”. That’s the gist of it. The motor is slightly glued to the plastic case, so a non trivial amount of pressure is required. That can put some significant tension on the plastic itself. In my case, this broke some super glue repair I had attempted on that piece of plastic in an initial “poor man’s” repair attempt. I don’t thing it would break a case that wasn’t damaged before, but be careful. The goal is to get the rumble out, not to break the case.
You’ll then want to unsolder the connectors from the broken rumble. Remember which is the red and which is the black cable as you go…take pictures (do as I say, not as I did)!
At that point I was actually so nervous that I forgot to take pictures during the whole process…
You could cut the cables with some scissors I guess, but I decided to unsolder them, which meant applying heat with the solder iron to melt the solder, while gently pulling on the motors’ cables. This step wasn’t difficult at all, in my experience.
4. Insert the new DS4 Rumble motor in its slot
Inserting the replacement motor in its slot should be easy easy enough. You might want to use some glue here to keep it in place. In my case, the replacement motor was wrapped in some sort of foam, which allowed me to easily insert it in its socket, and it was stable enough without having to glue it.
5. Solder the new cables
This time, you’ll want to solder the cables of your new motor, where the old ones used to be. Unless you have 3 hands, you’ll want a way to keep the cable in place while you hold the iron in one hand and the solder in the other. I used some blu-tack, (which I stuck somewhere on the case, not to far from the soldering points, but not too close to avoid disrupting the soldering work) to keep the cable in place. I’ve seen others use helping hands (that’s the fancy name for clips).
That part was hard for someone like me who hasn’t done soldering in ages. I was at a bit of a loss, as the wires in this case are not inserted in the PCB, they are simply “glued” to the solder. I did ok. Some folks say they completely dismissed the whole soldering part, and just taped the wires to the board (on the existing solder, obviously). I mean, I can see how that would work, but could lead to a poor electric connection.
Put everything back together (by basically following the instructions in reverse), then test your controller. To test basic operation, you can plug in your PS4 (pro tip: do it before sc*** back everything together, just in case you messed up and have to open it up again) with a USB cable to your windows PC, and test basic joystick functionality. This will ensure that you didn’t mess up the ribbon cables or things like that.
But to test the rumble, you’ll probably want to head back to your PS4 and try it there. A quick way to do that is to launch the free game “Playroom”, and select the controller demo. It will, among other things, activate the rumble. Alternatively, launch your favorite game which you know for certain uses the vibration functionality, and confirm you’ve fixed your issue.
I hope you found this tutorial slightly useful. Have you ever done some advanced repairs on your Dualshock 4 controller?