Torque and horsepower. These two words are sure to be thrown around in almost any discussion about car performance—particularly when talking about muscle cars or pickup trucks. The meaning of each term and their relationship can be a bit confusing to non-mechanics.
We’re about to put that confusion to bed once and for all.
Let’s start with horsepower. It’s the more well-known of the two terms. However, most people only know that, in general, horsepower has to do with speed.
Let’s peel back another layer. In addition to speed, the measurement of horsepower takes into account distance, time and weight. It measures the rate at which an object is moved over a distance by an external force.
For vehicles, horsepower translates to how fast a car is “pushed” over a certain distance. It’s what determines a car’s top-speed.
This “push,” or the external force causing the car to move, comes from torque.
The Force That’s Torque
Torque, on the other hand, is a measure of rotational force, regardless of actual movement or rotation. Like the force you use to open a jar of pickles for the first time. Even though it’s not budging when you first try to twist it open, torque is still being applied.
For vehicles, torque is the rotational force applied in the engine, which reaches the wheel shaft, making it spin.
Naturally, the faster and quicker it spins, the faster the car goes. So that 0-to-60 speed that you hear about on TV auto commercials depends on a vehicle’s torque.
For trucks hauling heavy loads, getting the wheel shaft to turn at all calls for a lot of torque.
What Do Torque and Horsepower Have to Do with Each Other?
Clear as mud? We hope not.
Whether you want more horsepower for speed or torque for hauling, let Bryant Motors help you find it in your next new or used vehicle.