Tug of War Humiliation – A Lesson In Torque And Horsepower

This could easily be the most highly debated automotive question of all time. Ask any car guy, or gal, which is more important, torque or horsepower, and they will probably have a very definitive opinion. Ask a few people and you’ll probably get quite a few answers with some people claiming torque is more important while others defend horsepower. Yet, the question of which is more important remains. As the old saying goes, “Horsepower sells cars, but its torque that moves them.” Even the comedian Jerry Seinfeld once weighed in on the argument, saying, “What’s the deal with torque? It’s kind of like horsepower. Sounds like horsepower. Has something to do with power. They should call it torquepower.” Watch any car commercial and you are likely to see all types of boasting about the amount of horsepower that the vehicle has. Without a doubt, horsepower is important. But, it goes hand in hand with torque. Basically, torque is what helps you to reach the speeds you want, while horsepower is responsible for helping you to maintain those speeds. Therefore when it comes to a good tractor pull, both are going to be very important.


Torque And Horsepower Explained:

Before we delve too deeply into that, let’s take a quick walk back in time. The concept of horsepower originated in the 1800s as a measurement of work by James Watt, a steam engine pioneer. Watt coined the term after observing horses at work in a mill. Obviously, vehicles are no longer powered by ponies, and the concept is somewhat arcane, but we still have term today.


By comparison, torque refers to the rotational, twisting forced an engine generates. This is the force that is transferred into the wheels by the drive system. If you step on the accelerator hard and you get thrown back in the seat, that’s torque. In scientific terms, torque is defined as a force’s tendency for an object to rotate around a pivot, fulcrum, or axis. This could be peddling a bicycle or turning the steering wheel of your vehicle. In both activities, there is rotational or circular movement. A pair of forces similar in magnitude but opposite in direction and parallel to one another generate torque. Horsepower is an actual unit of measurement, denoted by the acronym hp. While horsepower is measured over a specified period, torque is simply a measurement of the force that the engine produces during each revolution. Due to this, horsepower is reliant on time, while time is not relevant to torque.
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  • Dan Green Jr

    Amusing video… This was not a tug-of-war humiliation and it would have looked very different if the Chevy had actually tried to pull instead of just standing on his brakes. The wheels didn’t turn and it looks to me like the Dodge had his tire pressure pretty low. Decent article, but unfortunately, it has nothing to do with what the video shows.

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