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Tight Steering

My wife drives a 2005 Subaru Outback (automatic). Her thumbs, wrists and arms actually ache from the firm and precise steering. I know that there is nothing wrong with the steering. However she is in pain because her work requires 2,000 mi of driving per month and her small frame (4’ 11" - 96 lb) is having a tough time coping. Is there anything that can be done to make the steering less “precise” ?

Take the car to a wheel alignment shop. They may be able to tweak the alignment (say, caster) to lessen the strain. There are, also, steering dampeners which, when installed, could help. Your wife may be trying to control the car TOO precisely. She should relax her grip, a little.

Low tire pressure can cause the steering to be firm. Has that been checked?

Thanks for the tips…we will talk to our mechanic on Monday and see if these help!

I’ve never heard of anyone hurting from “firm and precise steering”. Are you saying that the car is wandering all over the place and needs constant correction (doesn’t sound very “precise” to me)? Does it take an unreasonable amount of effort to turn the wheel? I would assume that there’s some sort of power assist to the steering, and it should be checked out to see if it’s not working well (or at all).

Two other thoughts: one, that due to her small size, she is sitting in a very awkward position, which could lead to fatigue. Does she have one of those “booster” pads/seats that could bring her up to a more comfortable position? She may also need pedal extensions to keep her from sitting too close to the wheel (if the airbag deploys and she’s less than a foot from the wheel, it could literally eviscerate her!). Two, does something about driving this car make her very tense and nervous? It could be that she simply has a death grip on the wheel. That could lead to pain in the hands, wrists, and arms.

No, I don’t think it’s her size or seating position because I too have the same problem. I am a woman at only 5’ 3" but I have always had great upper body strength. I actually was searching this site precisely because of this issue.

Mine however seems to come and go… but it’s mostly here. I bought the car, 2001 Forester, in mid-Nov, and the steering was fine. It wasn’t until after the first freeze that it got hard to steer. It’s almost as if it’s “catching” as you turn it. For instance it will turn like 20* then I have to crank it to get it to make the full turn. Same thing as I am coming out of a turn; the wheel does not go back to neutral/straight position without having to crank it. Like I said though, it kind of comes and goes. It seems to get worse in the cold weather, almost like something is freezing/seizing then when it warms/thaws it’s fine/better.

I did have low tire pressure due to a slow leaking valve stem but I had that fixed and still have the tough steering. But I have never had this problem in any other car I have ever driven.

It really takes the pleasure out of driving and when you stare down a 45-60 min one-way commute every day, that’s not good. Other than this issue I really do love my Subaru. Living in Central New York (think Syracuse and points northward) the AWD is great, and the gas mileage isn’t terrible considering the AWD. Anyone have any suggestions?

have you ever taken it to a mechanic for a front end check?