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Maintaining Your Argo’s Transmission

Maintaining Your Argo's Transmission

With its brake-based steering and double or triple differentials, an Argo XTV transmission may seem complex. However, working on one isn’t much different than working on the CVTs found in regular ATVs and side-by-sides. Here’s how you can check the health of your transmission and take care of common maintenance tasks, like fluid and belt replacements.

Checking the Fluid Level

Argo recommends checking the fluid level in your amphibious ATV’s transmission before each ride. To get an accurate reading, park your vehicle on a level surface. Standard transmissions have a dipstick under the hood next to the firewall. Admiral transmissions have a sight glass on the side of the transmission case, which can be viewed with the firewall removed.

Not sure which transmission you have? When you steer, standard transmissions apply 100% of the steering brake force, making sharp turns. Admiral transmissions gradually apply brake force as you turn, letting you make gradual turns.

Changing the Transmission Fluid

Change the gear oil after you put 20 hours on your Argo to clear out any debris leftover from breaking in the transmission. After break-in, change the oil every 150 hours.

Argo transmissions are built to use API GL-5 gear oil. Oil that meets this classification has additives that help it cling to surfaces under high pressures and shock loads.  This is particularly important in these transmissions, as their angle-cut gears meet under far higher pressures than standard transmission gears. The manufacturer recommends Castrol 80W90 HYPOY-C gear oil.

The drain plug on the Admiral transmission is slightly above the bottom of the case. You will need to use a syringe or vacuum pump to remove the last bit of gear oil. You also need a shallow drain pan that will fit between the transmission case and the hull of your vehicle. Consider driving your XTV around before changing the oil. This warms up the fluid, so it flows out of the case faster.

To drain the transmission, remove the firewall and pull out the vent/fill plug on top of the transmission case. Remove the drain bolt at the bottom of the case, and let the fluid flow into the drain pan. Once oil stops draining from this hole, use the syringe or vacuum pump to remove the remaining fluid. The drain plug is magnetic, capturing any stray metal in the fluid. Wipe this plug clean before screwing it back into the case. It’s normal for this plug to be dirty, especially after the initial break in.

Fill the transmission through the vent/fill plug hole on top of the transmission case. Add fluid until you can see it reach the middle of the sight glass (Admiral transmissions) or the full mark on the dipstick (standard transmissions). With either transmission, the fluid capacity is 1.27 quarts or 1.2 liters.

Belt Maintenance

Replace the drive belt when the top of the belt is less than 1 1/6 inches wide, it has signs of cracking, or it is contaminated with oil. Wear will vary depending on how you drive your vehicle. Argo recommends inspecting the belt every 25 hours and replacing it as needed.

To remove the belt, thread a 6 mm x 1.0 bolt that is at least two inches long through the hole in the driven clutch face. This pushes the sheaves apart, letting you slide the belt off of the pulleys.

To install a new belt, slide the belt over the drive clutch, then over the edge of the driven clutch. Turn the clutch face clockwise to draw the belt onto the pulley. Once the belt is in place, it should be even with the sheaves or stick out up to 1/10th of an inch above them. If it does, you can remove the bolt from the clutch face.

If the belt isn’t in the right place, adjust the driven clutch:

1. Slide the clutch out of the transmission.
2. Loosen the jam nuts on the fixed face of the clutch next to the seal.
3. Using a hex wrench, turn the adjustment set screws. Turning them clockwise lowers the belt position, and turning them counter-clockwise raises the belt position. Turn both screws a half turn at a time, then slide the clutch back into the transmission to check the belt height.
4. Once you have the right belt height, tighten the jam nuts to 60-75 in-lbs.

Get Everything You Need for Your Argo from Shank’s Argo

Shank’s Argo is one of the largest XTV dealers in the East with decades of experience working on outdoor equipment. If you’re looking for a new amphibious ATV, or you need help with your current Argo, visit us at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA. You can also see what vehicles we have in stock and order parts for your machine at


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