Sure, that sound remote. But the fully grasp remote (in the 2010 context) take the long and bumpy drive through the Pt Reyes National Seashore to the Pt. Reyes Lighthouse. Out there you are on the dark side of the moon -- no cell service at all.
I know this because this is exactly where Izzy (the wife's E46 328ci) decided that power steering should be a optional luxury. So less than 100 yards from the parking lot and ~25 miles from cell service, Izzy started making Bad Sounds (tm) from the front end so strong they shook the steering wheel.
At first I though 'flat tire' but the sound was clearly tied engine speed which aint a flat tire. The fact that Izzy was now steering like a supertanker is what we call a clue. Nothing was amiss under the hood, even the power-steering fluid was still full so we reviewed our options. Hmmm.. ten cars in the parking lot but no people. ~25 miles back to town. No cell service. Ok, so we drive it.
What a workout. All in I drove that thing almost 50 twisty, turny mountainous miles in the quest to get home. The worst miles were the 10 miles stuck behind a tourist bus at 25 MPH. Three days on, I'm still a little sore.
Safely home, a little time on the internets showed that E46s share the habit of failing PS pumps. Typically the shaft between the pulley and the pump fails. Not ours, ours failed inside the pump, creating a loud buzzing sound that felt like something very heavy fell off and was dragging along the ground under the car.
My new cali-style mechanic (frosted hair and all) is now replacing the pump, reservoir (with built-in filter) and a couple of hoses. He's also going to replace both idler pulleys as a preventative measure as well. Tally: $1k
Ouch. Oh, I never did get to see that damn lighthouse but the bike shop was spectacular (How many Charley Cunningham road bikes have YOU seen?) and the cheese sublime.