What does BHP and Torque mean in a car?

Turbo Engine

If you are in the marketplace looking for a high-performance vehicle, you may have come across the terms ‘BHP’ and ‘torque’ and wonder what metric you should use to measure performance.

When you find a car that has high power, it is usually the torque that is at work.


Torque Vs Hp

Torque is how much power you need to turn something: in our case, the axles of the car. If a car is presented in such a way that it produces high torque, it will be easier for you to drive because you will only need a few gear changes. This means that you can accelerate without having to downshift.

Torque is about how much power your car has, while BHP is about the car’s ability to convert that power. A car can generate more power compared to its size because of the higher torque.

What is often described in many car shows as the torque of a car is the maximum torque that can be generated in the combustion engine. With torque, you can know how fast a car accelerates.

There are other factors that come into consideration when measuring the acceleration of a car, such as the weight of the car, a lower center of gravity, or a large diameter of tires and wheels.

RELATED: Tom Ogle Engine Information, MPG – Pros and Cons

How to measure car power

If you want to measure how much BHP in relation to the torque your car generates, you need to use a dynamometer. This method involves driving the car through different speeds and measuring braking power. The engine speed multiplied by the torque gives the brake horsepower (BHP). This is the total power.

Power is a unit of measurement that indicates how quickly the work can be done. In the past, it was how long it took a horse to move a certain pound of load within a certain period of time. Torque indicates how much work can be done, while power refers to how quickly the work can be done. The mathematical formula for horsepower is the multiplication of torque by RPMs.

The RPM measures how fast the motor rotates. In this equation, having more horsepower means that you need more torque, or that the car runs at a higher RPM. Mechanical engineers use an engine dynamometer. The machine uses magnetic fields to transfer torque from the crankshaft to the lever arm bearing. Others use a dynamometer that uses a water brake.

How gears influence torque


If you have always been curious about how to make your car go faster, you need to understand what is going on under the hood. When air and fuel are fed into the combustion chambers, the spark plugs trigger an explosion that moves the crankshaft and drive axles.

Gears help increase the torque of a car and are therefore very critical when it comes to determining the performance of a car. The first gear can have a ratio of 3:1, which means that it multiplies the torque output three times. This power is then transferred to the other gears. The piston of a car has low torque at low speeds, and this is the reason why the first gear often delivers a torque that is more than ten times the engine power.

Balance in BHP vs Torque

Car manufacturers are trying to find a balance between the two. There are moments when the equation moves more towards power than towards torque. The weight of a car influences torque and acceleration, while power is influenced by aerodynamics. The acceleration of a car can be hindered by the rolling resistance of the tires, the aerodynamic resistance and the friction in the engine.

Which is better – BHP or Torque?

Horsepower Car

For those who have a basic knowledge of how cars work, the conclusion is that BHP and torque mean the same thing. Modern moving cars have a combustion engine. An air-fuel mixture is ignited and causes a massive explosion that pushes the pistons up and down.

This in turn turns the crankshaft and the car roars to life. In the car, energy is converted from one form to another. In the past, horses were used to move loads, but this is now replaced by the engine.

Work is defined as the ability to move a load over a distance. The unit of measurement is feet per pound. Torque is the force generated by the crankshaft. The more torque you have, the more pounds of load you can move. Other definitions of torque include the energy you use to move a wrench.


How fast you can rev an engine is limited, and this means that a car with higher torque can produce higher BHP at lower RPM. This is clearly evident in sports cars that are light but have low torque but higher power and high RPM.

The most efficient cars are those that can generate enough torque at low RPM and can withstand it over long distances. Torque is directly related to the airflow that passes through the engine. Extremely large engines have large airflow inlets to increase their torque. Small engines can also benefit from turbochargers, superchargers and other boosters to allow large airflow into small engines.

With electronically controlled fuel injection, the amount of fuel used for combustion can also be increased to accommodate the increased airflow. Other engine parts must also be adapted to cope with the increased pressure of the combustion engines. This means that the coolant and lubrication must be adapted to handle the fast-moving parts.


It is difficult to determine in BHP vs torque which one is better than the other. Both influence each other. There are people who would rather have a car with higher torque at low RPM. Torque influences how an engine works, but horsepower determines whether it is good. Car lovers who know the interaction of air and fuel in combustion have adjusted the airflow of their engine by allowing more air to enter the combustion chamber.

However, this requires certain adjustments to other engine accessories such as coolant and engine oil. Otherwise the engine will explode due to the increased pressure.

Written by: Magnus Sellén

Founder, owner & main author of Mechanic Base. I have been repairing cars for more than 10 years, specialized in advanced diagnostics & troubleshooting. I have also been a drifting driver and mechanic for over 7 years.