How to Fix a Nintendo Wii Controller

by Deb KatulaUpdated September 22, 2017
Jason Crowgey/Demand Media

Wii remote problems make up most of the troubleshooting questions for the gaming system. Common complaints include an unresponsive remote, characters that disappear, characters that are off-center, jerky character movement or a rumble that does not work. There are many simple steps that can be taken to resolve your Wii remote problems.


Change the batteries in the Wii remote control. If you are using rechargeable batteries, make sure they are the correct type--nickel metal hydride rechargeable batteries are recommended for use in Wii systems.


Clean the Wii remote pointer lens. Use a soft cloth to remove any sticky substances. Wii remote jackets, stickers or other objects should not block the remote pointer lens, as it will cause characters to move erratically, disappear or remain off-center.


Operate the Wii remote between three to eight feet away from the sensor. Otherwise, it will not perform properly.

Note that infra-red lights from candles, toys, appliances, fireplaces and even sunlight may effect how the Wii remote performs. Try to remove or reduce infra-red interference from these sources when possible.

Turn off or move wireless devices located near the Wii console. You may be experiencing radio frequency interference from other wireless devices.


Remove the batteries from the Wii remote, if you are having an issue with buttons sticking. Gently scrub around the Wii remote buttons using a clean toothbrush and warm tap water. Do not get too much water on the remote. Wipe off the water with a clean paper towel. Let the remote air-dry face down before reinserting the batteries. Repeat this process until the buttons no longer stick.

Check to see if anything is blocking the sensor. Clear objects away from the sensor and console to enable the remote to send a clear signal to the Wii system.


Center the sensor bar directly below or above your television. Having the sensor off-center may cause the Wii remote to perform poorly.


Check your remote's sensitivity. Place the cursor on the Wii button located on the lower left corner of the screen. Select system tools (the wrench). Select sensitivity (sensor bar). If two blinking lights appear on the screen, the remote sensitivity is set correctly.


Adjust the sensitivity if the blinking dots are not present. Use the plus (+) and minus (-) keys to adjust the sensitivity until two blinking lights appear on the screen. Apply the new sensitivity settings by selecting confirm.


Completely turn off the Wii system. Remove the batteries from the remote. Turn the power off on the Wii console. Unplug the unit from the wall. Wait five seconds and then replug the unit into the wall.


Push the power button to turn on the Wii console. After the health and safety screen appears, open the small door on the front of the Wii console. Locate the red SYNC button. Push down on the SYNC button for fifteen seconds. This resets all previous SYNCS on the Wii system.


Re-sync the Wii remote. Locate the red button on the remote control under the battery cover. Push and release this red button. The Wii remote should respond with blinking blue lights.


Push and release the red SYNC button on the Wii console. Place the batteries back in the remote. When the remote is successfully re-synced, the LED light will remain lit.

Repeat the re-syncing process with all other Wii remotes on this system.


The higher the sensitivity settings are set on the system, the more sensitive it will be to light sources such as fireplaces and sunlight. If you are having a problem after adjusting the sensitivity, check to see if these light sources are impacting the performance of the remote.

If the buttons on the Wii remote are not working, check the game instructions. Not all buttons are used in each game. If one button is not working, it may not be needed for the particular game you are playing.

If you have purchased a Wii remote separate from your Wii console, the remote will need to be synced to the Wii system before it will operate correctly.


Photo Credits

  • Jason Crowgey/Demand Media

About the Author

Deb Katula has written and researched for Societe Generale, FIMAT, Nikko Securities, Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Arthur Anderson. She holds an MBA in economics and finance from the University of Chicago; a Japanese language fellowship from Harvard; and a Bachelor of Arts in business/psychology/Asian studies from Augustana College.

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