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Horsepower Vs. Torque: What is the Difference?

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Many people might be confused when asked about horsepower vs. torque. Both the terms horsepower and torque are often used when you search for some car specifications, but do you really know what they are? When it comes to horsepower vs. torque, do you know the difference? The horsepower is a term used to call the power that is produced by an engine, while the torque is known as the expression of a rotational or twisting force.

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Both the horsepower and the torque can help you determine the power of a car, however, they are two different measurements. Many people can’t tell which is which because they both can affect the overall speed of a car. So you ask, horsepower vs. torque, which one is better? The answer really depends on what you need in your car and how you will use it. If you want your car to be fast and can run at impressive speeds, then choose horsepower but if you will use your car for towing, hauling heavy loads, or if you want great acceleration even when driving on mountains and hills, then choose torque.


Horsepower Vs. Torque: How is Torque Different From Horsepower?



Horsepower and torque are some automotive terms that are often used when you check the car’s specifications. Many people might encounter these words all the time, especially the ones that are looking for a new car, but do they really understand what it means? Are they interchangeable? Horsepower vs. torque, what is the difference?


To know the answers to these questions, we need to understand what they are. Let’s go through each of them.


  • What is horsepower?


Horsepower is a term used that refers to how much power your engine can create in a certain period. It is known as the maximum power available to a car. It is said that the more horsepower your engine has, the more power will be supplied to your wheels, and the faster you will be able to run. This is the reason why you probably see some performance cars or sports cars with impressive and high horsepower numbers.


Although these power numbers or figures may be calculated in various ways, the horsepower numbers are supposed to be the optimum speed available to the car. The horsepower doesn’t really have a lot to do with the exceptional speed, but once the car has taken off, horsepower is the one that is capable of using high top speed as well as maintaining the high speeds. This high speed can be attained due to the power produced from the engine.


But, the amount of acceleration your car will get really depends on a lot of factors. This includes the torque and the weight of the car. This means that it is not always the car with the highest horsepower that will be the fastest.


  • What is torque?


Torque is known as a measure of turning force and just like horsepower, it is also responsible for the car’s speed. It is connected to the turning force, like when you try to turn open a door knob that seems so hard to twist. When you use force to twist it open, the force required to turn it and open the door refers to the amount of torque being used.


For cars, torque is the measure of the force with which the engine will rotate and it is measured in a lot of ways such as pound-feet or newton meter. If the horsepower is referred to as the speed, the torque is the strength. The engine of a car rotates around an axis and it creates torque. It is the one that can make your car quickly accelerate from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. It is also the one that pushes you back in the seat when this happens.


The pistons’ up and down movement in your engine creates force and this force will then be transmitted to your wheels, causing your car to move. Diesel engines are known to have the maximum torque. Diesel engines have maximum torque since they are built to create more power. They have a design that uses longer strokes to allow the piston to have more leverage as they turn and this can produce more force.


So horsepower vs. torque, what is the difference?


  • Car acceleration.


There is a difference on how the horsepower and torque work for the car’s acceleration even though the car moves using a combination of horsepower and torque every time you step on the gas pedal. When you accelerate your car, these two operate differently. Basically, in horsepower vs. torque, the one that gets your car moving as your car is starting to accelerate is torque, but when the car is already moving, the horsepower will take over, helping the car get up and maintaining its speed as you drive.


  • What they measure is different.


The horsepower measures the amount of power that is sent from the engine to the wheels. The weight of the object that is being moved, how far it moves, and the time in which it covers the distance are what this measurement is based on. To calculate the horsepower, you will just need to multiply the torque by rotations per minute. While the torque, like mentioned earlier, is a measure of the turning force. It is known as the measurement of the rotational force within the engine of the car at the crankshaft.


  • The horsepower is for performance.


If you want vehicles that are built for speed and power, you will have to choose the ones with high horsepower. The higher the horsepower the car has, the faster it is likely to be, depending on its size, such as a large sedan vs. a sports car with the same horsepower rating. The sports car can easily outrun the large sedan since the sports car is built more compact and lighter. However, higher horsepower cars still rely on torque since these types of cars are built to have the right balance between horsepower and torque. This is done to make sure that their drivers will experience the best possible driving.


  • Towing vehicles need torque.


Torque is strength. If you often use your vehicle for towing or hauling heavy loads such as campers, trailers, boats, or other heavy cargo, then between horsepower vs. torque, you will need torque. Torque will be more effective when towing or hauling since it will help reduce stress or strain on your vehicle when you are pulling heavy cargo.


Torque is responsible for helping your car start and maneuver uphills and though horsepower has speed, torque can be more powerful than horsepower when it comes to keeping your engine running and ensuring that it will continue to run smoothly even with a heavy load. For example, a heavy duty pickup truck with a higher torque might need more time to speed up or accelerate, but the low-end torque is what makes the towing or hauling possible.


  • Fuel efficiency.


The horsepower and the torque can affect the fuel economy of the car in different ways. When a car has more horsepower, it will most likely burn more fuel. It will burn fuel much faster, both under normal driving conditions and during acceleration.  When it comes to the torque, the more low-end the torque on a car is, the slower it will burn fuel, making it more fuel efficient. But of course, the way you drive, both driving and hauling habits, can also affect your car’s fuel efficiency.



Horsepower Vs. Torque: What Makes a Car Faster Torque or Horsepower?



Horsepower vs. torque, what makes a car faster? Many car enthusiasts might have asked this question before. It can be confusing since both have an effect on the car’s speed. So horsepower vs. torque, both can make the car accelerate but it is said that torque plays a much bigger role in how fast the car will accelerate.


Torque is what matters when it comes to how quick the car can accelerate since torque is the outcome of the force the pistons produce and at what speed. The fastest vehicles can produce high amounts of torque force at quite low RPMs. With this, it will enable the vehicles to accelerate at a much faster rate. You may feel this as you feel your body being pushed back into your seat when you step on the gas pedal. That, my friend, is torque making you feel its power.


Like the question, horsepower vs. torque, which one can make your car faster? If you mean speed, like how fast your car can run, then the answer will be horsepower. When it comes to speed, there is no doubt that the horsepower will take over. This is the reason why some cars equipped with impressive turbocharged engines have the capabilities to hit top speeds of 300 mph. This can be achieved because of the force that is created in the engine by the horsepower at somewhat high RPM.


Horsepower vs. torque, which one is better for your car? The answer really depends on what you are using your car for. Do you want to race? If you need a car that can go fast and that can hit high mph, you better choose horsepower. It will be more effective for your needs. But if you want your car to be strong, capable of pulling boulders and a car that can take off faster, then a high torque will be better for you since it is the one that can make your car quicker. It is the horsepower that can make your car fast.


Horsepower Vs. Torque: Which is More Important?


Horsepower vs. torque, between the two, which one is more important? Both are necessary and both can affect the overall speed of a car. The higher the horsepower an engine can create, the higher the torque capability. When you say capability, you will be able to achieve it through axle differentials and transmission of the vehicle. This is the reason why a tractor and a sports car may have a similar amount of horsepower but have a significant difference. The tractor transforms the horsepower into pulling or pushing extremely heavy loads while the sports car uses the torque for speed through the gearings.


To explain the horsepower vs. torque more simply, think of a new pickle jar that you are trying to open. Twisting off its cap, using all your strength to try to open it, whether you can make the cap come off or not, is torque. The force you apply on twisting the cap is the torque and it only exists with movement. So to loosen the lid of the pickle lid first, you will need torque. But when it has been loosened, thanks to the force you applied, you can then apply horsepower with your hand by spinning the lid faster.


So between horsepower vs. torque, which one is better? The answer really depends on the application or on how you are going to use it.


  • If you are looking for a fast ride, you should look at horsepower. It can help you get pure speed and allows you to drive faster. But if you are looking for a faster acceleration, choose torque. If you want your car to be able to quickly accelerate past some cars on the highway without having to shift a gear down, choose cars with low-end torque.


  • If you need a vehicle for towing or hauling heavy loads, look for torque. The outstanding towing numbers of a heavy duty truck will always have a higher torque compared to a truck made for light hauling.


  • If you are driving your car on a hilly area or yoú need it for driving on mountain roads, then you will need one with a good low-end torque. Regardless of the transmission, manual or automatic, low-end torque will allow you to hit the gas and drive through a hilly or mountainous area without having to shift down. You can easily drive your car and you will be able to accelerate faster when needed.



Horsepower vs torque, there are probably many car enthusiasts that are still debating about it but horsepower and torque are undoubtedly related. However, knowing what they are and what their numbers represent can help you find and choose the car you need.

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