Honda CRV with intermittent whine

My car started whining a couple of months ago. It is intermittent, at slow speeds or totally stopped. It’s a high-pitched whine that sounds like a small dog yelp. I can’t make it happen and can’t discern a pattern as to when it happens except that if it occurs once one day, I’m likely to hear it a few more times that day. It sounds like it is coming from the right hand side, perhaps from underneath the car. I’ve taken it in to the dealer who checked it over. Of course it didn’t make the noise for the mechanic. The dealership said they have heard this complaint one other time by an owner of a high mileage CRV. They are not able to determine the cause. My car is 2002 and has 172,000+ miles. Has anyone else experienced this? Did you find out what it was?

Differential whine is a common symptom in CRVs, and it means your differential fluid needs changing. Read your user’s manual and I believe you’ll find it says to change the differential fluid every 30k miles or so, which you should do, or risk damaging the differential.

Have the dealer change the differential fluid, and use only Honda diff fluid (which the dealer will do but some other mechanic might not).

The new fluid should make the whine go away. If it doesn’t, the differential has been damaged by not changing the fluid as recommended, and then you have to choose between an expensive repair or living with the whine.

But on the other hand, differential whine doesn’t sound to me like a small dog yelping, and it comes from under the rear center of the car, not front right. Maybe you just have a squealing brake rotor or a bad wheel bearing. Have they put the car on the lift and spun the front wheels to see if they can duplicate the noise?

You said it makes this noise when stopped, so it can’t be a differential noise. (Sorry Jesmed) The same applies to brake noise. the most common cause of this type of noise is your power steering system, specifically around the pump. Usually the whine is more noticeable when first started. Does it change when you turn the wheel? What happens is the return hose, (Honda # 53731 S9A 000) from the reservoir to the pump gets hard, and the o-ring (Honda # 91345 RDA A01) on the return pipe, where the return hose connects, is worn out. This allows the system to draw in a little air, and it whines. As it heats up they seal better and the noise fades. The o-ring (cost 70 cents) is such a common failure that my mobile Honda auto repair service stocks them. There was a recall on some models for this problem, this o-ring is an updated part.

@Conoso, you are correct, I missed the “totally stopped” part of the OP’s description. I like your idea about the power steering pump better.

My vote id for a bad bearing in a belt tensioner. If you use a piece of heater, hose avoiding moving parts of course, like a stethoscope you may be able to pinpoint the source.