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What Is a 6x6 ATV?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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A 6x6 all-terrain vehicle (ATV) is also known as a 6x6 aquatic all-terrain vehicle (AATV), a six-wheeled vehicle designed to operate on land as well as in the water. The 6x6 ATV does not have a steerable axle; rather the vehicle operates much like a tank. It simply locks one side of its wheels to pivot and turn. The operator of a 6x6 ATV uses a set of hand controls much like a bulldozer, where two sticks are used to control the movement of each side's wheels independently of the other.

Manufactured using a fiberglass or plastic body tub, the 6x6 ATV uses a mid-mounted ATV engine that powers the drive wheels via a chain and sprocket. A clutch transmission is used to drive each side of three wheels and tires independently of the other or both sides combined, depending on the position of the controls. The operator pushes both control sticks or levers forward to move ahead or pulls them back to reverse; the right lever is moved ahead while the left lever is pulled back in order to turn left; to turn right, the left lever is moved ahead and the right lever is pulled back. Both levers are pulled to the rear to brake from a forward motion.

Seals around the axles allow the 6x6 ATV to float and operate in water or mud. The tires provide motivation when the craft is waterborne. The 6x6 ATV is an all-weather vehicle with operation in snow enhanced by the installation of tracks. The tracks are installed over the tires of the 6x6 ATV and can be used in mud as well as sand and snow for the ultimate in traction potential. Typically designed for one or two passengers, the six-wheel drive vehicle can be used on all types of terrain, from swamps to sand dunes and snow drifts.

Unlike some ATVs, all of the tires on one side of the 6x6 turn at the same speed and at the same time when under power. This provides added traction as a slight bounce in the operator's seat is able to put at least one tire per side in a ground-biting position, in most cases. This makes the 6x6 ATV nearly impossible to get stuck or stranded. Often, only actual breakage of the machine can render it incapacitated. While not as fast as other types of ATVs, the 6x6 ATV is far more capable of traversing all types of terrain, including wet lands, than most other types of all-terrain vehicles.

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