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Discussion Starter #1
This is a 1999 manual transmission Rav4.

There is a discernible whine overtone to the engine sound at medium rpm. It's present at other engine speeds, just more so at 2000 rpm or so.

It sounds kinda like a gear whine from straight cut gears. It's not very loud. The normal engine sounds are louder than this noise.

This sound occurs in Neutral, clutch out. If it happens on the road or in other situations, it's overpowered by other normal noise.

I listened with a stethoscope, can't find a sure source. The closest I get to the sound in question is with the probe on the two aluminum colored tubes running across the front of the engine about midway up. Other points seem more or less normal, but this is the first time I have used a stethoscope, so I can't be completely sure.

The car runs fine.

I would like opinions on the cause of the sound, and possible fixes.

Thanks!
 

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Often a whine is caused by the alternator and may be a symptom of impending failure, or it may not. Suggest checking the alternator with the stethoscope.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I did check the alternator

I did check the alternator. It was the second probability, after the aluminum colored tubes across the front of the engine. It did sound just a bit noisy, but by my guess, not enough to be the probable source of the noise.

I put the stethoscope tip on pretty much everywhere I could reach with it.

The aluminum colored tubes across the front of the engine were quite noisy, maybe loud enough to be the source, and I can't tell where they go, as the ends were hidden.
 

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Unless the source of the whine is rather well defined, using a probe can yield indeterminate results, as you have found. Also some engine components actually can magnify a noise which actually is originating from another source. If you could post a sound recording of the whine, forum members might be able to determine the actual cause.
 
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