Whenever there’s talk about cars and their power, one of the main discussions is almost always horsepower VS torque. Even the commercials revolve around the amount of horsepower and torque the engine of a car or a truck provides, and although the equation is quite simple here – the bigger the numbers, the stronger the engine; we still wanted to close the torque VS horsepower debate once and for all and find out which performance measurement is more vital for the overall power of an engine/car.
Before we determine which concept is more important for your car’s performance, let’s first delve a little bit deeper into what horsepower and torque really are.
What is Horsepower and How is it Measured?
Horsepower is the amount of power an engine produces. To put things into numbers, 1 horsepower equals the power that is needed to move 550 pounds over the distance of 1 foot in 1 second. The horsepower of an engine is measured with a tool called dynamometer.
According to SAE International (the Society of Automotive Engineers), there are two different standards for determining horsepower:
- Gross Horsepower: removes almost all the loads from the engine (even emission controls) before the testing starts
- Net Horsepower: the number that is used in advertising and manufacturer literature
What is Torque and How is it Measured?
When it comes to horsepower vs torque, torque is much easier to measure. It is defined as a rotating force that may or may not result in motion, and it is measured as the force multiplied by the length of the lever through which it acts. For instance: if 10 pounds of force is applied to a bolt head via a one-foot-long wrench, 10-pound-feet of torque is being generated.
Although torque can be generated without moving a vehicle, we are interested in the torque that DOES move a vehicle, and that is when torque becomes work. This work is what most people think of when they say torque, especially in terms of towing.
Engines that generate more torque have more work (towing) potential.
The Relationship Between Torque and Horsepower
Here’s how torque, horsepower and the dynamometer work together: dynamometer measures the torque output of the engine, usually at various engine speeds or RPMs (revolutions per minute), and the numbers are then inserted into the following formula:
torque X RPM ÷ 5,252 = horsepower
Although horsepower is a much more popular way of measuring car’s or trick’s power, we at Phoenix Towing believe both torque and horsepower are equally crucial in the competitive automotive market. These numbers are a vivid, concise and a rather informative way of illustrating what a vehicle is able to do in terms of performance, but it is important to mention that, in the real world of driving and towing, there are other factors at play as well.
The very design of a vehicle, towing or otherwise, also plays quite a complex role here, as only with the right design are horsepower and torque able to work together in a proper way.
In a nutshell, torque is the work, while power is the rate at which that work is being done. This is why torque should be seen as potential. This potential is then being converted into something that can be applied in the real-world via vehicle’s transmission and axle differentials.
The two can’t exist without each other, they are both equally important and they each stand for something different when it comes to measuring the power of a car or truck.
So, a lot of moving parts here, and the torque vs horsepower battle is not nearly as simple as it may have seemed. For more articles like this one, visit Phoenix Towing Service!