Microsoft’s Xbox offers both professional and amateur gamers a premium gaming experience. To help this, Microsoft has improved the design and performance of the Xbox controller over the years. As a result, your Xbox console needs a quality Xbox controller regardless of the model you’re using.
Unfortunately, these Microsoft controllers are renowned for turning off abruptly mid-game. This issue can happen to both wired and wireless controllers. In addition, the Xbox controller may turn itself off for different reasons, such as a low battery, out-of-range issues, hardware and software malfunctions, or outdated controller firmware.
So if your Xbox controller keeps disconnecting, read on to understand the common reason for this issue and how you can fix it.
Reasons why your Xbox controller keeps turning off
Your Xbox controller cycles on and off mid-game for many reasons. Here are the most common ones:
The Xbox controller is out of range
The most common reason why your Xbox controller keeps disconnecting. The controllers connect to the Xbox console through radiofrequency(RF) signals. Therefore, it has to stay within the designated range to send and receive signals to the console.
The recommended range is between 19ft and 28 ft. If you use the controller outside the optimum range or keep moving around the house, your Xbox controller will keep disconnecting.
There could also be other objects blocking the signal between the controller and the console. For example, materials made of aluminum, copper, and alloy copper can block wireless signals.
A dead or low-capacity battery can cause your Xbox controller to keep turning off. You can check the battery indicator on the upper-right corner of the Home screen to verify that it has sufficient power.
Software or hardware issues
Sometimes the RF module in your Xbox console can end up in a connection loop due to software bugs, glitches, or hardware overheating. This can cause communication issues between the Xbox console and controller.
In addition, heavy use, especially with the Xbox Elite 2 controller, can cause internal component malfunction.
Outdated Xbox controller firmware
If your Xbox controller runs on outdated firmware, it can cause several issues, including connectivity issues.
Microsoft claims their Xbox controllers last you about 7-10 years. Unfortunately, the older Xbox controllers deteriorate much faster than, the newer models. Suppose you’re a heavy gamer; your controller will likely wear out much quicker.
Also, if you have dropped your controller a few times or an accumulation of dust, lint, or grease may cause malfunctioning over time.
So after about five years of use, your controller may start showing some decline, such as disconnecting instantly during use.
Solutions for an Xbox controller that keeps disconnecting
Fixing an Xbox controller that cycles on and off during use is relatively easy. The following troubleshooting steps will work on all Xbox consoles. So here’s how to stop an Xbox controller from turning itself off.
Use your Xbox controller closer to the console.
- If you’re using a wireless controller, try to move closer to the console to ensure you’re within the recommended RF signal range.
- Also, ensure your peripheral is facing the console’s front.
- Get rid of any metallic objects and devices around your console to prevent them from obstructing signals between the controller and the console.
- You can also try to minimize the number of connected controllers to your console as it can affect the signal from your controller to the console. Therefore your controller will keep shutting off.
Replace the batteries
If the Xbox controller battery indicator on your Xbox display shows your controllers are running or low battery, try to change them to see if the issue resolves.
- Press the Xbox button on your controller.
- Next, go to the Xbox Home screen and find the battery icon in the top-right corner.
- If the battery is low, take off the back casing on your controller.
- Then insert two new AA (LR6)batteries. Position them with positive (+) and negative (–) ends, as shown in the battery compartment.
- If you’re using a rechargeable battery pack, plug your controller into a wall outlet and charge it until it’s full.
Power cycle your Xbox
If you have a full battery, but the controller keeps restarting, try power cycling your console to fix the issue. Power cycling your console will reset it and clear any glitches which cause connection issues. To power cycle your Xbox console:
- Press and bold the Xbox button marked “X” on the console for about 10 seconds. Your console will turn off and make a beeping sound to indicate it has powered off.
- Wait a few seconds, and press the “X” button again to turn on the console.
- All Xbox components will reboot, then try reconnecting the controller to the console.
- Play a game for a while and see if the controller turns off again.
Disconnect and reconnect your controller
If your Xbox controller turns on but is not working, there may be a glitch during the pairing process of your controller. It may explain why it keeps disconnecting. Try reconnecting it to your console to rebuild the connection and ensure it stays on while playing.
If you’re using a wired controller:
- Unplug the cable on the controller, then plug it back in. To unpair it:
- Alternatively; to unpair it:
- Find the Sync button on your controller
- Hold the Sync for a few seconds
- Then unplug the US cable from the controller
- And then reconnect it:
- Plug the USB cable back into the controller
- Press the Sync button on the console and the “X” sign should start flashing.
- Turn on your controller, and the X button should also flash.
- Press the Sync button on the controller.
- If the X sign on the console and controller turn solid while they have successfully synced.
- If the issue persists, use another cable or USB port to see if the issue resolves.
For a wireless Xbox controller, follow the steps below:
- First, find the wireless connect(pair) button on the console. This button is in different locations on each console.
- Xbox Series S: At the front
- Xbox Series X: At the front bottom
- Xbox One: On the side
- Press and hold the wireless connect button on the controller until the Xbox button starts flashing.
- Release the button and give it a few seconds.
- Then press and hold the same wireless connect button on the controller until the Xbox button turns solid white.
- Try playing and see if it fixes your controller.
Update your Xbox controller firmware
Keeping your controllers running on the latest software improves the controller’s capabilities and compatibility. That’s why outdated firmware can cause your controller to keep disconnecting.
If your current controller has completely failed, you will need another controller to process the update. You can use a USB cable or stereo headset adapter.
To update your Xbox controller:
- Plug a USB cable into your controller and console.
- Sign into your Xbox Live
- Press the Menu button on your controller
- Go to Profile & system > Settings > Devices & connections > Accessories.
- Choose the controller with the problem
- Select Update > Continue
- If the system alters you, “No updates needed,” your controller firmware is up to date.
- If it says “Update,” select the Firmware version and wait for the update to complete.
- After several minutes, check your controller and see if it’s working.
If you’ve connected your Xbox to the PC, you can still update the controller firmware using the Xbox Accessories app on Windows 10/11. Here’s how to update your controller firmware on a PC:
- Download the Xbox Accessories app on your PC only available on Windows 10/11.
- Connect your Xbox controller to your PC via a USB cable or Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows.
- If your connected controller is due for an update, a message “Update required” will appear on the screen.
- Follow the steps on the screen to install the update.
- If you don’t see a message, your controller is up to date.
Reset your Xbox console
After trying all the above solutions and still having the same issue, try resetting your gaming console as a last resort. You can choose the option to keep your console’s app and game data while restoring the console to factory settings. To reset your Xbox console:
- Press the Xbox button to open the menu.
- Go to Profile & System > Settings > System >Console Info
- Select “Reset Console”
- Choose “Reset and keep my games & apps” from the reset options.
- After a few minutes, your console will restart after successfully resetting.
Try another controller
If your controller is internally damaged, then none of the fixes will resolve the issue. To confirm your controller is faulty. Try connecting a different Xbox controller. If the new controller works, then you will have to replace yours. If both controllers have the same issue, then your console needs servicing.
Alternatively, you can contact Xbox support to replace or repair your controller for free if your warranty is still valid.
Now that you know all the possible reasons why your Xbox controller turns off abruptly during use, you can use our troubleshooting guide to fix this. We have covered replacing the batteries, moving the controller closer to the console, restarting your console, updating the controller firmware, restarting your console, etc. If none of the solutions work, contact customer service or consider replacing your Xbox controller.