I am looking for a word that doesn't sound as precise or intentional as 'adjusted', but doesn't have the accusative connotations as 'tampered'.

Example sentence:

The mechanic installed new struts on the car, but now the steering is out of alignment. I can't imagine why they would tamper with/adjust the steering.

I think 'adjust' in this sentence is wrong because it implies intentionally making something more exact, eg: 'I adjusted the temperature setting to make the room more comfortable'.

I think 'tamper' implies purposely, and perhaps nefariously, making something worse or dangerous, eg: 'The police found that the ATM had been tampered with'.

Is there a word in between these two?

  • In your example with the mechanic, and similar ones with plumbers etc..(or parents?) .. I would say "touch". as in I can't imagine why they would even touch the steering systems.
    – Tom22
    Mar 1, 2017 at 23:08
  • continuing on "touch".. more formally might be "involve themselves with" or "get involved with" etc.
    – Tom22
    Mar 1, 2017 at 23:09
  • 2
    Change (or alter) seems like a good, neutral word to use here. Mar 1, 2017 at 23:19
  • 1
    Perhaps you'd like to remove the intentionality aspect altogether (it could have been an inadvertent side-effect): 'I can't see why the steering should be/have been affected.' Mar 1, 2017 at 23:28
  • @EdwinAshworth - affected is what I thought of as well.
    – Jim
    Mar 2, 2017 at 0:00

1 Answer 1


I think the word you need is interfere.

I can't imagine why they would interfere with the steering.

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