Automotive Fundamentals 101 | What is Torque?

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Do you love cars, but struggle with the lingo? Perhaps all that automotive jargon is making it difficult to feel as passionate about the Automotive industry. Here at THE Blog About Cars we know how scary and impenetrable the world of petrolheads is – and we want to make it easy for you to get involved. So, week by week we are going to take a common yet potentially confusing Automotive term and explain it for you – a fast-track Automotive Fundamentals 1010, if you will.

Lesson 1: What is Torque?

What is torque?

The technical definition is that Torque is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Just as a force is a push or a pull, Torque can be thought of as a twist. In essence, Torque is the amount of turning power you have.

Torque will be displayed in lb-ft (generally pronounced foot-pounds), ft/lb or sometimes newton-metre (N·m).

What does Torque mean for your car?

Essentially Torque causes your car to accelerate. In fact, when you are feeling the power of your car screaming along, what you are really feeling is the Torque – along with more obvious things like the weight of the car, the size of the tires and whether your engine can produce that Torque over a variety of engine speeds. Any given car, in any given gear, will accelerate at a rate that *exactly* matches its torque curve (allowing for increased air and rolling resistance as speeds climb). Making sense?

The Torque specification in your car spec is generally the maximum torque of the internal-combustion engine, which is usually a higher value than the actual Torque on the wheels.

People also confuse HP with Torque, and this does get a lot more confusing. However, the easiest way to think of it is this: Horsepower makes you go fast, whilst Torque makes you feel like you are going fast. Horsepower involves Torque and Revs and tends to involve equations that, whilst manageable, put most of us to sleep. Torque is the only thing that a driver feels, and Horsepower is just sort of an esoteric measurement in that context.

Does Torque make more sense to you now?

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