What Exactly Is Horsepower?

November 01 2018,

What Exactly Is Horsepower?

Shopping for a new car can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not well-versed in the specifications and features available. When you visit your Lakeland area Ford dealership, Bartow Ford, we want you to be able to make an educated comparison among vehicles. By learning about horsepower, you’ll be able to understand exactly how it affects your vehicle.  

The Beginnings of Horsepower

The term horsepower dates back to 1781, when James Watt wanted to convince people to buy his steam engine instead of using draft horses. The only problem was that no one understood just how fast a steam engine could go, so hee had to put its speed into terms that people were familiar with. To do so, he measured a horse as it walked in circles to rotate a mill’s grindstone. He then multiplied this distance by the 180 pounds of pulling force the horse had and divided that by the amount of time.

Though this mathematical method to calculate horsepower today is hard to visualize, we still use it today. Car engines were created to replace horses, so car manufacturers adopted Watt’s term. Horsepower became a standard unit of measurement. Today, you can think of horsepower as the capability of moving 33,000 pounds a foot within a minute.

Examples of a Single Horsepower

Since we rarely discuss horsepower outside of vehicles, the concept can seem difficult for many people. To put it in perspective, imagine a few examples of a single horsepower. These include a moment of all-out sprint on a bike for an average cyclist, although over time even top bikers can only handle a few tenths of a single horsepower. One horsepower would also be enough to power the typical drip coffee maker.

How Horsepower Affects Your Car

The general rule of thumb is that if a car produces more horsepower, it will have better acceleration and improved overall performance. Of course, the performance is also impacted by other factors, such as the size and weight of the vehicle, and its torque. Those interested in sports performance should also pay close attention to handling and steering.

If you have any more questions about horsepower, feel free to contact your Lakeland area Ford dealership, Bartow Ford, at 800-303-4016 visit us in person.


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