Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Car recommendation for guy w/ ALS (aka - Lou Gehrigs disease)

I have enjoyed Car Talk for more than 20 years.

I am writing to seek your thoughts on what car I should buy. I have a slow progressing form of ALS, diagnosed in 2001, which has weakened my hands and arms. My '95 Buick Lesabre served me well until it died in August. The steering on many cars is too tight for me. I’ve learned that most American cars can be adapted with something called ‘reduced effort steering’ for around $5,000 to $8,000. I’m not ready to spend that. I’d like to find a car to drive now, and possibly adapt in a few years. I’d like to believe that I can drive another two or three years (at least).

Here’s my wish list:

(I know I want find a car with all of these qualities, but you dont get what you dont ask for)

Small SUV ? easier to get in and out of (Rav-4, Ford Escape)(a sedan is fine too)

Easy steering

Controls on steering wheel (music, heat & air)

Loop type exterior door handles

Gear shifter without a button (maybe this can be adapted)

Not partial to domestics


Under $8,000

Thank you very much,

James Murray

515 Basswood Drive #N133

Nashville, TN 37209

Feel for something(Steering, seat comfort, etc) is a personal touch, so you’d have to test out many different things before you buy. Even though you may not like domestics, they’re gonna give you the newest vehicle for your price range. For example, my 99 civic is worth around 4 grand, the same amount of cash could get an 03 Focus or Taurus.
Not sure which cars do or don’t have the button type gear lever, again, this will be trial and error.
Controls on the steering wheel will mean a newer vehicle, which will mean you’ll need to look at domestics to stay under your 8k price range

These are all very good points. Thank you. I probably will go American. I should have that I am open at this point.


Please note that there are hundreds of unknown individuals who watch and reply on this BBS. Click and Clack very seldom look at it or post on it, although it is not totally unheard of. A word to the wise: I’m not sure there is an edit feature on original posts, but if you can, you might want to delete the personal info that you included.

I don’t know about the newest models, but the Honda Accords I’ve driven all seem to have light steering.

Also note that an inspection before you buy could save you a lot of money down the road as well. Most used cars are only as reliable as the previous owners kept them.
A 6 year old Taurus with 100k+ miles on it that’s had it’s maintenance done on time will most likely be more trouble free than someone who trades in a 3 year old Civic with 20k miles that never even bothered to change the oil(“Hey, warranty didn’t pay for my oil changes, so I’m not gonna pay for it either” kinda attitude)

I slipped up, there. Thanks for the advice.

I’ll try one. Thanks

I’m sorry that you have ALS. My good Friend has MS and really can’t function at your level. You need to try to sit and move and control a bunch of newer model cars. Each one is a challenge I understand. You need to decide what is better for you. It just depends more on your ability than I can recommend.

Great advise. Thanks for your sympathetic point of view.