Measure Horsepower

How to Measure Horsepower Using a Dynamometer

ATC’s chassis dynamometer is one the main hi-performance testing tools our instructors and students use to measure an engine’s power output. And when that light changes from red to green, you better believe it attracts a crowd of spectators.

In the following blog post, we’ll help you get a better feel for the finer points of this thrilling performance test.

Dynamometers Defined

How to Measure Horsepower Using a DynamometerThere are several types of dynamometers and each has a unique application. The two types that are used the most in the automotive industry are engine dynos and chassis dynos.

While an engine dyno obviously measures the output of the engine in terms of horsepower and torque, a chassis dynamometer additionally can measure the performance of the full powertrain.

A chassis dynamometer, like the one at ATC, consists of large metal rollers that are set into the shop floor and is often referred to as a “rolling road.”

Using the Dyno

  1. Getting ready: The car is positioned atop the rolling road with its drive wheels on the corresponding rollers. The vehicle’s brakes are disengaged.
  2. Running the test: When all is set, the gas pedal is pushed down. The engine roars, the vehicle’s wheels spin, and the heavy dyno barrel slowly turns.
  3. 3.       What you’ll get: The dynamometer’s barrels are hooked up to an advanced, performance-deciphering computer that will absorb and record power levels as they’re generated by the engine. What you’ll get from the test is a list of performance scores, among them max horsepower and torque levels.

A Way to Measure Horsepower without a Dyno?

For those of you at home with your interest piqued and hopes slightly let down about getting to test your own ride on a sophisticated rolling road, there’s a way to measure horsepower without a dynamometer. And it’s likely in your pocket or your hand right now.

Your smartphone! Yes, you can perform your own test runs with a smartphone app that records 0 to 60 times, max horsepower, and more. Though not necessarily industry proven, for a small fee or for free, you can easily see some motivating engine stats.

Check out this app roundup from Power & Performance News to get a feel for how these apps take on what a dyno can do.

Become a Hi-Performance Professional in Training

If you enjoy reading about the compelling equipment and procedures that automotive technicians get to take part in every day, embarking on a new career journey might be in the cards for you. Automotive Training Center’s comprehensive training programs can help you to hit the road (first rolling then stationary) to new and fulfilling opportunities in the automotive and marine industries.

Interested in learning more? Download ATC’s free Automotive Technology Career Guide.


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