When searching for a new car, or wondering just how powerful your current model is, horsepower is a term that comes up to help calculate just how much power it may offer. You might be wondering what exactly horsepower is all about, and what it means when it comes to a car.
Does more horsepower really equate to more speed? Where did the term come from? Does it really matter? These are questions the team at Automotive Training Center will provide answers to.
A History of Horsepower
Horsepower is a term that was invented by an engineer by the name of James Watt. Lore says that he wanted a way to be able to calculate the power that ponies were doing at a coal mine. He discovered a mine pony was capable of doing 33,000 foot-pounds of work in about 60 seconds. While this is an arbitrary measurement, it’s become a popular way to measure how powerful a car is, along with other items like lawnmowers and leaf blowers.
Torque, meanwhile, is another term you’ll see. It’s a measure of rotational force, which is produced by the engine’s crankshaft. The more torque an engine is capable of, the better it can perform work. A foot-pound is a typical measurement for torque.
Looking at Horsepower and Engines
The horsepower terminology remains these days because it’s a good way to measure what engines are capable of in terms of doing the work that used to be performed by horses. It’s a consistent way to measure things, but doesn’t tell us everything about performance. In general, the more horsepower a vehicle produces, the faster it will accelerate. That being said, there are always other things to consider when looking at horsepower.
For example, a compact car and a larger sedan with the same horsepower rating may perform differently. The compact sedan, which is likely lighter, will accelerate more quickly. Torque is something to look at, too. The more torque, the better a car can move from a complete stop. It’s also a number that should be looked at closely if you’ll be doing a lot of towing.
Horsepower Isn’t Everything
While cars with high horsepower outputs will often draw a lot of attention, it doesn’t mean everything when it comes to getting behind the wheel. Cars with high horsepower outputs are fun to drive and can be powerful, but there are many vehicles out there with lower horsepower outputs worth driving, too.
Compact, small, and midsize cars don’t exactly need a lot of horsepower to still perform capably. These cars will be more fuel-efficient and affordable, too. If a car is light and still carries a powerful engine, it can still mean a dynamic driving experience for the person behind the wheel.
Does More Horsepower Mean More Speed? Not Always
Now that you’ve had the opportunity to learn more about horsepower and hi-performance engines, we invite you to check out the Automotive and Hi-Performance Technology program here at Automotive Training Center.
As a part of this program, you’ll have the opportunity to work with hi-performance engines and understand what makes them tick.