Horsepower vs Torque – A Simple Explanation

We use horsepower and torque figures to win internet arguments all the time. Here's what they actually mean.

We throw horsepower and torque figures around all the time when talking about cars. They’re a vital part of any spec sheet. But do you actually know what those numbers represent? Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained put together a simple video demonstrating what “horsepower” and “torque” actually mean, what these numbers represent, and how they’re connected.

Torque is simply a force acting on something from a distance (i.e. a piston pushing down on a crankshaft, using that leverage to rotate it), while horsepower is torque multiplied by RPM, or a measurement of how quickly an engine can accomplish a certain amount of work.

Ultimately, when it comes to measuring things like top speed and acceleration, it’s horsepower you have to look at, since it’s the figure that explains how much an engine can accomplish in a certain period of time.

But that’s just a simple overview. Let Fenske show you how it really goes down inside your motor, and how torque and horsepower differ.


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