Re: Steering column noise
"What other symptoms would a bad or going bad pump have?"
open the hood, engine on, and have someone operate the steering while you monitor for any change in noise from the engine area
If you can hear a noise change, narrow it down. You can use a long screwdriver, held against a pump, and touch the other end to your skull, just below your ear (or put the handle end right in your ear), and you can hear like a stethoscope. This is also handy for pinpointing a failing, noisy bearing too. Pay attention to where you put it so you don't get it caught in the spinning belt or fan, or short any wiring of course.
If everything spinning on the front of the engine gets ruled out you might also try the stethoscope trick on the steering column shaft itself, as perhaps a failing u-joint in it could make a noise.