If your PS3 controller won’t connect to PlayStation 3 consoles this could be due to several different issues. How to troubleshoot connection issues with PS3 wireless controllers.

Controllers made for other Sony systems such as PS2 and PS4 cannot be used with PS3 without an adapter. Make sure the controller you are using is compatible with your console.

Why won’t my PS3 controller connect?

There are two official wireless options PS3 controller : Dualshock 3 and older, discontinued by Sixaxis.

Sony Dualshock PS3 controller on white background

Both versions can be connected directly to the console via a micro USB cable, and both have Bluetooth features that enable wireless playback. Each controller also has an internal battery that charges when connected to the PS3. The only significant difference between the two is the vibration of the Dualshock 3 device.

For the vibration feature to work, it must be enabled and the game you are playing must support vibration/hum.

In addition, there are dozens PS3 compatible controllers third party manufacturers. Some unofficial PS3 controllers only work when connected directly to the console, and some come with a Bluetooth adapter that needs to be connected to the console in order to play wirelessly. However, they all rely on the same underlying technology, so they are subject to the same issues. PS3 controller connection problems can be caused by the following reasons:

What to do if your PS3 controller won’t connect

  1. Make some basic problems

    Before proceeding with disassembling the PS3 controller, here are a few steps you can take to determine the source of your connectivity issues:

    • Turn off your PS3 console, then turn it back on to see if that fixes the problem.
    • If possible, try connecting the controller to a different PS3 or connecting a different PS3 controller to the PS3 to make sure the problem isn’t with the console itself.
    • Make sure the USB cable connecting your controller to the console is working.
    • Remove any other USB devices you have connected to your PS3 when trying to sync your controller.
    • If using a wireless controller, make sure the controller battery is charged and is within 30 feet of the console.
    • When trying to sync your wireless controller, make sure you don’t have more than six other Bluetooth peripherals connected to your console.
  2. Replace battery

    If the controller does not turn on at all, the problem is most likely with the battery or internal hardware. First try removing the battery and reinstalling it:

    1. Use the glasses repair kit to unscrew the back of the PS3 controller.
    2. Look for one small watch battery. In official Sony PS3 controllers, it is located near the top left side of the motherboard.
    3. Gently remove the battery and set it aside for 30 seconds.
    4. Insert the battery and try to turn on the controller again.
    5. If this does not help, try replacing the old battery with a new one. Any standard watch battery will work.
  3. Resetting your PS3 controller

    If your controller works when connected but you can’t play wirelessly, you can try reset settings controller:

    Dualshock 3 Reset Button Diagram
    1. Turn off your PS3 console.
    2. Connect the controller to the USB port on the console.
    3. Turn on your PS3.
    4. Look at the small hole on the back of the controller next to the L2 shoulder button. Use an unfolded paperclip to press the tiny reset button inside the hole.
    5. Click button PS on the controller to reconnect it to the PS3.
  4. Clean the motherboard

    If your controller still won’t connect, the issue is most likely related to motherboard devices or other indoor equipment. You can try to clean the motherboard with compressed air, but be very careful not to damage the device.

  5. Contact manufacturer

If you have an official Sony controller that is still under warranty, you can contact PlayStation support for more help. If you are not sure what type of controller you have, check the model number located on the rear panel. If your controller was made by another manufacturer, contact them for further assistance.

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