What is the Difference Between Horsepower and Torque?

January 17th, 2019 by

Cross-section of a car gearbox and clutch.

If you’ve ever looked up the performance specs of a vehicle, you may have noticed it lists two things: horsepower and torque. So what is the difference between horsepower and torque anyway? Is one better than the other? Is it better to have more torque or horsepower? Compare horsepower vs. torque below and find out the difference before you buy your next vehicle.

Horsepower vs. Torque

When you turn the ignition in a vehicle, horsepower and torque are what are used to accelerate the vehicle. So what’s the difference between the two?

  • Horsepower: Refers to how rapidly work is accomplished. For instance, one horsepower is the power required to lift 33,000 pounds exactly one foot in one minute. This is a man-made calculation that helps determine the amount of power provided to the wheels under the hood of a vehicle. This measurement includes weight, time, and distance.
  • Torque: Refers to the rotational force that occurs within the crankshaft of the engine. The more torque a vehicle has, the greater performance it will have (or the more work it can handle). This unit of measurement is usually referenced in terms of feet per pound.

What Does This All Mean?

Once you know the differences between horsepower and torque, you need to know how that all calculates back to your vehicle. An easy way to think about it is that torque refers to how fast your vehicle will move off the starting line, and horsepower refers to how much power you can carry once you’re off the line.

If you were to have a race between two vehicles, Vehicle A with higher torque and Vehicle B with higher horsepower, the race would go something like this. Vehicle A would take off from the starting line quicker than Vehicle B and typically have a lead at the beginning of the race. However, Vehicle B will eventually kick into power and surpass Vehicle A who will lose longevity.

So which is better? It depends on what you want your vehicle to do: move quickly or stay quick.

Learn More at Butler Auto Group

If you want to find a vehicle that fits your horsepower or torque needs, head to Butler Auto Group. With locations in South Carolina and Georgia, we can put you behind the wheel of the new vehicle you want, and help you decide whether a sunroof or moonroof would be the perfect addition for your summer road trip. Contact us today to schedule your test drive.

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Posted in Buying a Car