Horsepower vs. Torque

January 1, 2024

“Torque” and “horsepower” are common words in car-loving circles. Torque represents the turning force from a vehicle’s engine, while horsepower is its overall top speed and power. Since horsepower is calculated from torque, these figures influence each other.

Below, we’ll dive deeper into the difference between horsepower and torque, exploring how they work individually and together.


What Is Torque in Engines?

Torque measures an engine’s strength. It ultimately influences acceleration and speed, determining how quickly a vehicle will launch off a starting line or move a heavy load for towing. An engine with substantial torque will accelerate faster when you push the gas pedal.

An internal combustion engine contains pistons that move up and down within the cylinders. The crankshaft converts this energy into a twisting force — torque — and transmits it to the drive wheels.

Torque is the force needed to twist an object. Think of opening a bottle of soda or applying pressure on a bolt with a wrench to loosen and unscrew it. The force you create would be torque.


Measuring Torque

An engine’s torque represents the amount of twisting force at the crankshaft. It’s typically measured in pound-feet or Newton meters (Nm). To convert Nm to pound-feet, you can divide the Nm value by 1.356.

You can measure torque at your engine’s crankshaft or wheels with one of these devices for a direct and accurate reading:

  • Reaction torque sensor: This device measures nonrotational or static torque. A prime example is a torque wrench. You can adjust the base of this wrench to a desired amount of torque. As you apply force, the wrench emits an audible click upon reaching the intended torque. Digital torque wrenches usually have a needle gauge that displays the applied torque.
  • Rotary torque sensor: This device measures dynamic force and converts rotational torque to a measurable output. It’s typically used for internal combustion engine tests, motor torque testing stands and similar applications.


What Is Horsepower?

Horsepower describes power output — the amount of power an engine generates. It’s the sensation of speed you feel down the road as the revolutions per minute (RPM) increases. One horsepower equals 550 foot-pounds of work per second or 33,000 foot-pounds per minute.

You can calculate horsepower with this formula:

Torque x engine RPM / 5,252

James Watt — inventor of the steam engine — coined the unit “horsepower” to equate horses to engine power. While attempting to market the steam engine in the 1770s, he realized that many of his customers would use this new invention as a transportation alternative to horses. He set out to measure the amount of power delivered by horses to better compare the engine’s output to that of the traditional horse and carriage.


What Is the Difference Between Horsepower and Torque?

Unlike torque — which measures an engine’s performance in a given moment — horsepower represents how an engine performs over time. An engine’s horsepower is directly proportional to the torque the crankshaft produces.

A high-torque car can accelerate faster from a static position. Meanwhile, a high-horsepower vehicle can maintain high speeds longer. Engine tuners often try to maximize both values for performance that matches their needs.

Maximum engine displacement limits the total size or volume of the engine’s cylinders based on the vehicle’s size. In turn, there are restrictions on the torque output an engine can create, which cap the engine’s maximum horsepower.

Generally speaking, a physically larger engine will have higher torque at a lower RPM, while a higher RPM will mean more horsepower. Electric vehicles (EVs) typically have more torque than their petrol-powered counterparts, so naturally, they accelerate more quickly.


When Do You Need Torque vs. Horsepower?

To recap, torque makes your vehicle get up to speed faster. Horsepower gives your engine a higher top speed. If you need a strong vehicle that can take off quickly and move heavy loads — such as for towing applications — you’ll require plenty of torque.

Horsepower may be higher on your priority list if the overarching goal is reaching higher speeds. Racing applications are a prime example. Torque makes your vehicle quick to leave the starting line, while horsepower keeps you ahead of the competition.


Hot Shot’s Secret Additives to Boost Horsepower and Improve Performance

Speed enthusiasts use a variety of techniques to boost engine horsepower. Here are a few examples:

  • Routine maintenance: Regular maintenance and upkeep significantly impact engine performance. If you’re looking to reap optimal horsepower from your vehicle, stay on top of routine maintenance tasks, including oil changes, air filter replacements, spark plug checks and fluid level monitoring.
  • Exhaust system upgrades: High-quality air filters and cold-air intakes can boost air intake and power. The increased airflow activates the computer to inject more fuel, raising power output. Similarly, replacing your standard catalytic converter with an aftermarket performance header can enhance airflow.
  • Engine tuning: Engine control unit (ECU) remapping involves plugging a specialized performance tuner into the diagnostic port. This device adjusts fuel maps and timing for improved performance.
  • Forced induction methods: Turbochargers and superchargers push compressed air into the engine. Getting your vehicle to use more oxygen through forced induction gives you an added power boost.

Perhaps the simplest and most budget-friendly way to improve engine performance and efficiency is oil and fuel additives. At Hot Shot’s Secret, we scientifically engineer our diesel and gas additives to improve fuel combustion, reducing friction with our patented FR3 Friction Reducer. All our engine oils and oil additives use FR3 to reduce horsepower robbing friction, helping increase horsepower output. Our high-performance formulas also help:

  • Clean fuel system parts that help increase horsepower.
  • Add an extra defensive layer to your engine and extend its life span.
  • Reduce carbon deposits that affect fuel consumption.

You can also check out this case study to learn more about how our fuel additives can drive the results you desire.


Order Your Fuel and Oil Additives From Hot Shot’s Secret Today

Our automotive additives could be the performance-enhancing solution your vehicle has been missing. We also offer a 100% money-back guarantee if your product doesn’t work as described. Browse our assortment of gas and diesel additivesoil additives and place your order. If you need assistance choosing the right additive for your engine, contact one of our experts today.