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Power steeing pump

My 99 Saturn SL2 (113000 mi)has a whine coming from the engine. This noise changes pitch, getting higher as I accelerate. It is present when the car is idling. My mechanic says the power steering pump is internally blocked and needs to be replaced, cost approx $425.

Why would the noise be present when the steering wheel is not in use as in idling? Could it be a belt?

The power steering pump is always turning, regardless of what you do with the steering wheel. Are you sure the fluid is at the correct level? It’s easy to check.

Remove the PS fluid reservoir and clean the filter screen you will find inside. If this screen is plugged up it will starve the pump for fluid…

Fluid is at appropriate level

I was told a ‘vein’ was blocked

You were not told that here…

No - that was part of the mechanic’s diagnosis

Ask your mechanic to remove the reservoir and clean it out. A half-hour job.

Thanks - I’ll do that

Power steering and rack flush, plus fluid, power steering bleed all performed 3/2/09. Could the reservoir and screen become blocked since then?