The Simple Guide to Understanding Horsepower and its Importance

December 13th, 2016 by

2016 Ram 1500 towingWhether you’re an active member of automobile enthusiast circles or you’re simply shopping for a new vehicle you’ve likely stumbled across the word “horsepower” your fair share of times. But what exactly is horsepower? We see and hear this word a lot when dealing with vehicles, but do you find yourself wondering what it really means? Keep reading and we’ll help you get a better understanding of the meaning of horsepower and what its importance is when it comes to vehicles.

What it is

Horsepower has a long history and a lot of complicated math behind it. Instead of making things confusing with a lot of numbers and equations we’re going to make it simple. What it boils down to is this: horsepower is a word that is used to describe an output of force. In the olden days the term was used to quite literally refer to the power of horses to explain a steam engine’s power level. So, two horsepower would mean that the engine had the power to do the work as two horses. If we apply this same logic to vehicles today, it makes sense, but still, imagining 315 horses pulling your vehicle is quite the image.

Why it Matters

So, now that we understand a rough definition of the meaning of horsepower, it’s time to unpack what this measurement actually means, if anything at all. While some people may argue that the term horsepower is outdated and doesn’t mean much of anything when it comes to demonstrating a vehicle’s performance potential, the science behind it disagrees. Horsepower is a measurement which is able to help describe the engine’s ability to do work. However, just because the vehicle has the potential to do a certain amount of work, it is also important that the rest of the vehicle is built to be able to carry out that potential. In other words, while horsepower defines potential, this potential can’t be met without the help of other performance aspects like torque and overall vehicle construction.

Take the time to learn more about the ins and outs of vehicle terminology and current industry happenings by reading up on Knight Dodge’s blog and feel free to contact us with any questions you may have!