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Engine Torque vs Horsepower: The differences

If you look into car specifications, you’ll find statistics on engine horsepower and torque. But do you know what these are?

In this article, we’ll explain this engine specification and the difference it makes to driving your vehicle. Keep reading!


What is Engine Torque?

Engine torque is the force that gives a vehicle the power it needs to start and drive up steeper roads.

Therefore, the higher the torque of a car’s engine, the heavier the load the vehicle can carry.


What is the purpose of Engine Torque?

Engine torque gives a car the power to overtake, constantly accelerate up a hill, and carry heavy loads.

While lorries carrying weights over two tonnes need more torque, light vehicles don’t need engine torque – they need horsepower.

Light vehicles need to balance horsepower and torque so they have the power they need to drive up steep slopes (torque) and reach high speeds (horsepower).



What is maximum torque?

An engine’s maximum torque is reached at a specific rotation; that is, the force of the motor varies until it finds its maximum performance at a given rotation.

When it comes to the engine torque of an electric engine, maximum torque is available almost from zero revolutions, decreasing as the number of revolutions per minute increases.

That is, electric car performance is significant almost instantly.


How does Engine Torque affect car performance?

Torque directly affects a car’s ability to accelerate, especially from low revs, such as when pulling off at a traffic light or climbing a steep hill.

In addition, an engine with a higher torque can increase a vehicle’s ability to tow heavy loads such as trailers.

In contrast, a car with higher torque performs better when driving in urban areas where they constantly need to accelerate and decelerate.


What is Engine Power?

Engine power is the measure of the power that an engine can put out and measures the speed at which the engine develops its maximum power, which is usually expressed in horsepower (HP) or kilowatts (kW).

An engine’s power is determined by the rate at which work is completed in a given period of time. Several factors influence it, including engine size, design, and efficiency.

The higher the engine’s horsepower, the greater its ability to perform work in a given period of time, which generally translates into more effective acceleration and a greater maximum speed.

However, depending on the engine’s efficiency, it can also lead to increased fuel consumption and polluting gas emissions.



How does Engine Power affect car performance?

Engine power is one of the main factors that affect a car’s performance, as it directly influences its acceleration capacity, maximum speed, and load capacity.

The higher the engine power, the greater the acceleration capacity of the vehicle, which means that it can reach higher speeds in a shorter period.

In contrast, a low-powered engine can result in poor vehicle performance with slower acceleration and reduced maximum speed.

This can be especially problematic when overtaking or going up a steep hill, where a more powerful engine may be required to overcome air or gravity resistance.


What is the difference between Engine Horsepower and Engine Torque?

Engine power measures the rate at which work is performed, while engine torque measures an engine’s rotational force.

Both are important for engine performance and when choosing a vehicle suited to user needs.


What is the connection between Torque and Horsepower?

Torque and horsepower are two different measures of engine performance, but they are directly related to each other.

The higher the engine torque, the higher the power in any given rev range.

For example, an engine with a high torque can generate a lot of force at low revs but may have limited power at higher revs.

On the other hand, an engine with a lower torque may have a higher power output at higher revs but may not generate as much force at low revs.

In short, engine torque affects the force a car generates to produce movement, while its horsepower affects how quickly the engine can do the work required to move the vehicle at any given speed.



How can you increase Engine Torque?

There are a few ways to increase engine torque, such as:

  • Installing a new exhaust system;
  • Adding a turbo or a compressor to increase the amount of air allowed into the engine, allowing more fuel to be burned;
  • Adding a water injection system to the engine to reduce its combustion temperature;
  • Reconfiguring the car’s electronic control unit (ECU) to allow the engine to produce more torque in certain RPM ranges;
  • Adjusting the drive shaft.

However, it is important to note that an increase in engine torque can affect other aspects of the car’s performance, such as fuel savings and engine durability.

In addition, it is important to consider the ability of the transmission system and other car components to cope with increased torque.

We recommend you seek help from a qualified professional when carrying out any car engine modifications.


Why do Diesel Engines Generate More Torque than Petrol Engines?

Certain technical characteristics cause diesel engines to produce more torque than petrol engines. Find out which in the following list.


  • A higher compression ratio 

While a diesel engine piston rises to the edge of the engine cylinder, a petrol engine piston stops just before it reaches the top of the cylinder.

This is because diesel engines are not spark-ignited. As such, they compress the air and fuel mixture to the greatest extent possible.

Doing so generates more force, not engine power.

While diesel engines have a compression ratio of between 16:1 and 18:1, petrol engines have a compression ratio of between 11:1 and 13: 1.


  • Higher combustion speed

Combustion speeds are higher in diesel vehicles as the combustion is self-igniting.

In contrast, petrol engines need to be spark-ignited and are therefore slower.

Higher combustion speeds in diesel engines lead to higher torque and more power produced in the engine.


  • Turbochargers

Most diesel vehicles contain one or two turbos.

Turbochargers allow for even more pressure to be produced inside diesel engine cylinders, leading to an increase in the torque produced by the engine.


  • Calorific value and density

Diesel fuel is less dense than petrol, which means it has a lower calorific value.

In contrast, diesel can store up to 15% more energy by volume than petrol.

Whenever combustion occurs in a diesel engine, more pressure is exerted, and more energy is transferred to the piston, thus producing more torques.

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