What Is Horsepower?
As inquisitive minds inquire, I’m sure you asked this question, “What does a horse have to do with car/engine power?” Well, as you know, horses were the first form of transportation. However, riding a horse has nothing to do with what we now call “horsepower.”
The term “horsepower” was coined by Scottish engineer James Watt in the late 18th century when comparing the power of steam engines to the power of work horses. In other words, horsepower (hp) measures the rate in which work is done. Therefore, your car’s horsepower depends on the rate at which your engine works.
Think of your engine as a hunk of metal housing 4-8 chambers of hell…also known as combustion chambers. These chambers provide force/energy to push your car forward. The more combustion in those “chambers of hell,” the more your engine’s rate of work increases. (Side Note: Those chambers of hell are actually engine cylinders.) Coupes and sedans can have a horse power range of 110-150hp, while the horse power for trucks can range between 170-480hp. To put it in perspective, a 2014 Ford Focus can reach up to 159hp while a 2014 Chevy Silverado, up to 420hp.
How to improve it?
Our intrinsic need for speed forces us to wonder, “How can we increase our cars’ horsepower? How can we drive faster?” Here are 5 ways to improve horsepower:
- Cold-Air Intake. The colder the air your engine intakes, the more horsepower. Why? Because cold air is denser, increasing airflow, combustion, and therefore power. It can increase horsepower by up to 5-20hp. However, it’s important to make sure the cold-air intake doesn’t absorb water, which can lead to costly engine damage.
- Cat-back exhaust. Allowing exhaust gases to escape easier and faster, is another key to increase horsepower. This goes beyond replacing your muffler. Some mufflers are built just for vanity reasons, with no guarantee of increased horsepower. However, replacing your exhaust system is a sure way to increase horsepower, even though it can be overwhelming.
- Tires & Alignment. Short and light weight wheels reduce the amount of power needed to get your car moving forward. Making your alignment straighter and tires lighter is a sure way to improve horsepower. In addition, dialing out the toe-in to where your wheels point straight ahead will help improve horsepower.
- Reflash. This only works if your car is turbocharged or supercharged. Reflashing your computer will reset its timing regarding the engine’s fuel and air mixture. However, you can also replace your computer chip, but it’ll definitely be a financial investment worth researching first.
- High-flow air filter. Adding a high-flow filter and intake system is a relatively inexpensive way to improve horsepower. A high flow air filter draws in more cool air from outside of your vehicle. It has been reported that it can add 5 horsepower. However, most luxury cars already have a top-notch air filter. So, adding a high-flow air filter may or may not increase horsepower depending on the model and make of your car.
Essentially, anything that can make your car lighter and increase air flow will increase horsepower.
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