Torque Compared to Horsepower

Torque Compared to Horsepower

Do you remember that Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoon in which Bugs was pranking Daffy by switching all of the Rabbit Season hunting signs to Duck Season? “Duck season!” “Rabbit season!” “Duck season!” “Rabbit season!” They went back and forth, back and forth, but who was in the right? No one, really.

The seemingly-endless debate over what is more important for a car – horsepower or torque? – is pretty similar to those classic cartoon characters and their timeless argument. The reality is that if you want your vehicle to perform well, you need horsepower and torque, both need to be in season, so to speak. To understand why finding a balanced mix of horsepower and torque could be ideal for your car, we need to know what horsepower and torque are, by definition.

Horsepower: Getting Work Done

Back in the 1800s, a man by the name of James Watt wanted to simplify how work could be measured at the average mill or farm. By observing what the typical horse could do in an hour, he eventually came up with the term horsepower. As the story infers, horsepower is just a measurement of work, and in physics equations, work = distance (moved) x force (applied). Consider that you pushed a 100 pound block 10 feet; your work would equal 1,000 foot-pounds, or 1,000 foot-pounds of horsepower.

As far as a car’s engine goes, the more horsepower you have, the more work can get done. In other terms, the more horsepower you have, the further your car can haul itself, and generally at higher speeds.

Torque: Getting Work Started

Now consider torque, or force applied around a twisted or rotating access. Use a 6-inch wrench on a bolt and exert 10 pounds of pressure, and you’ve only done 5 pounds of torque (.5 feet x 10 pounds = 5 pound-feet in torque). Grab a comical 10-foot wrench and exert the same 10 pounds of pressure and suddenly you have 100 pounds of torque. Impressive!

In a car, so much power literally revolves around how the engine is built. RPM means ‘revolutions per minute’ after all. The greater force your car can apply per rotation, the more torque it can get. The end result is picking up and moving the car from a standstill with greater ease.

Now Combine the Two!

When you have excellent torque, you generally have great acceleration. When you have excellent horsepower, you should have top speeds that are both awesome and maintainable. If you can modify your engine to get the best of both worlds, you will be the envy of every one on the block, regardless if they were siding with Bugs or Daffy at the beginning.

If you’re interested in seeing how more torque, more horsepower, or more of both can amp up your car’s attitude, look no further than the Houston automotive performance specialists at HP Motorsports. We are well-known around the state for bringing high-quality services and modifications with a smile, and with competitive pricing. Call us at 281.231.9950 today for a free estimate!


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