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Extending the Life of Your Argo XTV

Why do emergency services around the world rely on Argo XTVs? It’s more than just their off-road and water capabilities: these vehicles are renowned for their reliability. Of course, being so different in design from UTVs and ATVs, its easy for new owners to miss maintenance issues, leading to problems down the road. Here’s how you can address the most common sources of problems with these vehicles.

Service Brakes

These brakes, which are mounted next to the transmission, both stop the vehicle and brake the inside wheels to make turns. The handlebars seem to have some slop to them as they won’t start braking the wheels until turned a few degrees. However, the brakes engage immediately when the handlebars are moved. They might not apply enough force to turn the vehicle, but there is enough friction to overheat the brakes, leading to brake and steering fade, while wearing the pads out prematurely.

The pads must be kept dry to work effectively. If you have a seal or transmission leak near the pads, inspect them for signs of contamination.


When changing the transmission fluid, don’t forget to clean the drain plug. It’s magnetic, so it will pick up any metal worn off of the gears. Some metal is normal, especially when changing the fluid after the initial break-in period.

To check the fluid level in standard transmissions, remove the firewall to access the transmission. The fluid level should be in the middle of the sight glass, located next to the drain plug. Admiral transmissions have a dipstick located in the engine compartment. Overfilling either transmission can lead to overheating and damage.

Admiral transmissions have a drain plug, but it isn’t mounted low enough to completely drain the fluid. A vacuum pump must be used to get the last bit of old fluid out before adding fresh fluid.

Drive Chains

The chains need to be lubricated frequently: vehicles without an automatic lubrication system should have their chains cleaned every 10 hours of operation. If you’re on a long excursion, or you use your XTV as a work vehicle, you may need to lubricate the chains every day or two.

Do not use high tack oils. While it may seem logical that a sticky oil will cling to the chain and offer better protection, it also lets dust and debris adhere to the chain, increasing friction and wear. Argo chain lube and automatic oiler lube are designed to wash away contaminants as they lubricate.


The diesel and fuel injected engines used in recent models aren’t as sensitive to fuel aging as older carburetor-fueled engines. However, since these vehicles regularly travel across water, there’s a greater chance of water contaminating in the fuel system. Inspect the fuel if the filler cap was accidentally left off of the vehicle or water was splashed into the right side of the vehicle near the fuel vent tube. Once it has had time to settle, gasoline will float above the water, resulting in a visible clear layer inside the tank. Diesel fuel lasts longer than gasoline, but over time algae can bloom, clogging up the fuel filter and burning poorly in the engine. Signs of algae and water contamination will appear as dark fuel with traces of sludge.

Axle Bearings

This is a common problem area because it’s easy to overlook. A pair of seals stops water from entering the axle, but wear and tear can lead to small leaks. Water contamination will turn the oil inside the bearing housing into a milky emulsion. If this happens, inspect the seals for damage and replace as needed, then replaced the oil. The housings are designed to hold 80W90 HYPOY-C oil, not bearing grease.

When using tracks, it’s crucial to use the correct tire pressure. On 6 wheel XTVs, the front and middle tires should be aired up to 5 psi, while the rear tires should be aired up to 6 psi. On 8 wheel models, the front tires should be aired up to 5 psi, the middle tires to 7 psi and the rear tires to 6 psi. If the tire pressure is incorrect, the differences in tire diameters can lead to chain windup, putting stress on the wheels and axles. In severe cases, this can damage the bearings and break the wheel studs.

Keep Your Argo Running with Help from Shank’s Argo

When you need help with your XTV, you can trust Shank’s Argo. We have over 30 years of experience with outdoor equipment, and we’re one of the largest dealers in the East. Visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. To get here from I80, take Exit 10/Marion and drive one mile East.

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