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I have a friend that suffers from bad arthritis who is struggling with the effort to turn the steering wheel. They drive a small 2004 vehicle but are quite willing to buy a newer car if it will help. FWIW the car will likely need to be of Japanese origin as that is mostly what we get here.

It occurs to me that it must be possible to make a cars power steering lighter, but I don't know what terms/functionality to look for to guide us towards cars whose power steering can be reprogrammed to make the steering easier.

Can anyone advise the names of the technologies to look for (with the idea we can then get help from an auto electrician to reprogram the power steering)

(I've had little luck looking up odb-ii power steering), and dont even know how to correctly ask the question.

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While I agree with jwh20's answer for the most part, there is an alternative on the market, that being an electric power steering unit. This is an aftermarket power steering unit which is adjustable. It would have the ability to provide the additional assistance needed on top of the power steering provided by the vehicle to allow your friend to drive the vehicle with less effort and strain.

Depending on what type of vehicle you have, there's two options for it. One which replaces the insides of your current steering column and one which takes out part of the existing, leaving the column in tact.

While I am not affiliated, the company I'm familiar with which provides this product is American Powertrain. (I'm using their product as an example.) There may be others, so do your research if this is a line you might want to pursue.

It would require some cost on top of the part itself, so be prepared. This type of product is usually used in racing or high performance applications where installing a typical hydraulic assisted power steering is not an option due to space limitations or for the visual aspect.

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Modern power steering systems are not force adjustable, at least not by the consumer. Some systems are variable rate where the force needed changes with the amount of turning but this is all controlled by the vehicle's electronics and I am not familiar with any systems where it's adjustable by the user.

The only exceptions might be those cars with "sport" modes and the like where the steering may be quicker in sport vs. standard mode but again, that's not really what you're looking for.

In general, cars that are marketed as "sporty" or "performance" have tighter and harder turning that cars in many other categories.

Probably the best bet is to shop around and test a number of different cars and see if you can identify one that has an acceptably light steering.

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  • Tbank you for your answer. For clarification I expect we would go to an auto electrician (or mechanic) to get it adjusted. ( I'd be surprised if this were a user-changeable feature on many cars because of design/safety concerns)
    – davidgo
    Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 19:13
  • Most, if not all power steering systems use variable rate; more power assist in very low speed like parking maneuvers then gradually reduce power assist as speed increases. This is desirable for most, using less power assist at speed to allow steering feedback. Decades ago when power steering was new, it was non variable, almost fingertip steering from parking to highway speed. I think no one can adjust power steering unless expert in hydraulics or electronics in electric steering. As suggested, trying new or used vehicles would be the best way to feel differences in steering effort needed.
    – F Dryer
    Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 23:23

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