got a message from my brother-in-law, who if he had joined OPPO could be asking this himself, but here I am..... vehicle in question, 2003 Camry, beige. The problem is it has recently required more effort to turn the steering wheel. There has also been a squeaking noise which has also gotten worse but he doesn’t know if the two correlate. Power steering fluid is fine. squeaking seems to be coming from inside and only at lower speeds. the difficulty turning is consistent and at all speeds. sounds. like i have a new project for the weekend

he found this:

6/13/2003 - 2002, 2003 Toyota Camry. Some 2002 – 2003 model year Camry (NAP) vehicles may exhibit a low frequency noise when the steering wheel is turned at low speeds due to friction between the intermediate shaft and grommet. Grease application has been improved.