What Is BHP: Is It The Correct Measurement Unit For Automobiles?

What Is BHP: Is It The Correct Measurement Unit For Automobiles?

If you are new to the automotive community, the first question in your mind has to be “what is BHP?”. Anyone who owns a car knows about the term BHP, but the actual meaning is only known to some. BHP or brake horsepower is what is used to compare the different cars in the market.

These terms are used by many automotive manufacturers in order to market their cars. It helps explain to the consumers how powerful the car is. It also allows the consumers to know if the car is worth the sticker price. In layman’s terms, BHP is the unit used to describe the power output of a particular car.

HP Meaning

Horsepower or HP is an extremely common term used by the automotive community. A horsepower is a unit of measurement of power or the energy that is produced by a car or a bike engine. Horsepower is seldom an accurate measure of an automobile’s capabilities. HP does not take into consideration different outside factors like friction.

what is bhp

In layman’s terms horsepower or HP is just the power that an engine is capable of producing. The average vehicle experiences a loss of about 10% to 20% horsepower by the time the power reaches the vehicle’s wheels. Hence the HP of an automobile is relatively inconsequential when we determine how well a vehicle can perform.

There is much more than meets the eye when we talk about the since behind the car’s speed. Horsepower might not be the only thing that helps measure the performance of a car but it does have a big impact on it. There are two types of horsepowers, imperial horsepower, and metric horsepower.

Brake Horsepower

Brake horsepower or BHP is another term that is used a lot by the automotive community. BHP is the measurement of the power output of a car before the energy is delivered to the vehicle’s transmission and drivetrain. In layman’s terms, BHP is a more accurate or real-world measurement of the amount of power or energy that can be produced by a car.

Even though BHP is more accurate than HP, by the time the power produced by the engine reaches the wheels, it loses approximately 15% of the power generated by the engine. This is because BHP does not take into consideration the general friction or mechanical wear that a vehicle undergoes.

Brake horsepower is the amount of power generated by a vehicle under ideal conditions. It is calculated without taking into consideration the components that might actually slow down the speed of the motor. Hence BHP is relatively more realistic when we talk about the output of any vehicle, but it is not 100% accurate.

What Is Torque

Horsepowers and torque are the two main units that are used by automotive enthusiasts in order to measure the power of an engine. Torque is referred to as the twisting force or the strength of an engine or a motor. In layman’s terms, the sensation of being pushed back while acceleration an individual feels is the torque of a car.

Torque and horsepower have different characteristics, that peak at different engine speed ranges. Usually, in an internal combustion engine, torque performance appears as a bell curve. Once the car builds to its peak RPM, torque tapers off and horsepower takes over.

Once the car has started moving, torque is relatively less important. For example, when a car is driving on the highway, the engine typically works on the highest gear and the lowest possible RPM, this requires no torque to keep the vehicle in motion.

Small vehicles have smaller engines that have lower torque and horsepower numbers. Keeping the engine smaller makes the car affordable and also fuel-efficient. Bigger cars, like an SUV, need more horsepower and torque to power the car. Just because an engine is big does not mean that the vehicle is faster, there are several more variables like the weight of the car that plays a huge role in determining the speed of the car.

Horsepower Vs Torque

Horsepower and torque are one of the most commonly used terms when we talk about any vehicle. Both these terms are the byproduct of the car’s engine producing energy for the car to move forward.

They are referred to as the power produced by a car once the air and fuel combust within the engine to produce energy. Here is the difference between horsepower vs torque to understand both of them better.

1. Measurement

When we talk about the difference between horsepower vs torque, both of them measure different things. This is the biggest difference between the two in that both of these units are responsible for different things. Torque is the way to measure the force produced by a car. It is the measurement of the force that is sent from the car’s engine to the crankshaft.

On the other hand, horsepower measures the amount of power that is sent from the engine to the wheels.

2. Vehicle Acceleration

There is a combination of things that happen when you press the gas pedal. Horsepower and torque combine to make your vehicle run. Whenever you accelerate your vehicle, both these two power figures work together but have separate functions.

In layman’s terms, it’s the torque’s job to get the car moving when you initially accelerate the car. Once the car starts moving, it is the horsepower that helps maintain the speed when you drive the car.

3. Torque Is More Important For Towing

If you need a car to haul trailers, campers, boats, or anything else, then torque is what you need. It is responsible for reducing the strain on your vehicle while pulling any kind of load.

Torque is what helps your car start from a standstill and makes it easy for your car to be driven on hills. It is usually more useful and powerful in such conditions. It helps your engine run smoothly when you have to pull a heavy load.

A vehicle with higher torque, like a pickup truck, may take more time to accelerate, but while hauling, it is the low-end power nature of the torque that is required.

4. Horsepower Is Important For Vehicle Performance

Vehicles with high horsepower are designed for individuals who want speed and power under the hood. The higher the vehicle’s horsepower rating, the faster it’s more likely to go. Size does play a huge role in this.

For example, a sports car may be faster than a large sedan, even if it has the same horsepower rating because the sports car is lighter and more compact. More horsepower for a car might also have better handling on the roads.

Vehicles with high horsepower still do rely on torque to get the car. cars today are designed to have the right balance between torque and horsepower for the best driving experience.

5. Fuel Efficiency

The last difference between torque and horsepower is one of the most important ones, especially if you want a vehicle that’s extremely fuel-efficient as possible.

Both torque and horsepower directly affect fuel economy in different ways. The more horsepower a car has, the more fuel it is going to burn while accelerating as well as under normal driving conditions. On the other hand, if your car has more low-end torque, the slower it may burn fuel. It also depends upon your driving and hauling conditions.

RPM Meaning Car

The question “what is BHP?” comes with some other questions like “what is RPM?”. The full form of RPM is revolutions per minute and it is used to measure how fast an engine is operating at a given time. RPM measures how many times the engine’s crankshaft makes one full rotation every minute. It also signifies how many times each piston goes up and down in its cylinders.

what is bhp

The RPM on any car increases as you press the accelerator, as does the power. Engines necessarily do not produce their maximum power at their highest RPM. manufacturers typically present the peak horsepower figures followed by the RPM, for example, 342 HP at 5600 RPM torque on the other hand typically comes at lower RPM and may be shown as a range in turbocharged or supercharged engines, for example, 273 pounds-feet at 1600-4500 RPM.

Most modern cars have a tachometer that indicates engine RPM. RPM is usually measured in thousands. At the top of the RPM range, is a zone called the redline. As the name suggests that area is marked with a red line. Revving beyond that line can damage the engine.

WHP Meaning

Someone who is troubled by the question “what is BHP?” might also find themselves wondering about the meaning of WHP. The full form of WHP is wheel horsepower. It is the most accurate way of measuring the power of a vehicle.

Wheel horsepower is the measurement of power with the drivetrain connected. It is usually performed on a chassis or a dyno hub. The engine is placed in the car and it is measured with all systems running. This is the measurement most automotive enthusiasts care about.

what is bhp

Manufacturers these days use horsepower as a unit to market a bigger horsepower number for selling their product. Horsepower is usually measured on an engine dynamometer, which is not connected to any of the car’s other features. On the other hand, when you measure the wheel horsepower, it is usually done on a chassis dynamometer.

What Affects Drivetrain Power Loss

Once we have cleared the answer to “what is BHP?”, we know that BHP or brake horsepower is not always accurate. This is because when we calculate BHP we leave out some of the factors like friction. This phenomenon causes a significant power loss which leads to discrepancies between BHP and WHP measurements.

At times, environmental factors can disrupt an engine’s output. This may further increase the difference between BHP and WHP. Here are the following common factors that can influence drivetrain power loss.

What Is BHP, Power Loss Factors #1: Temperature

It is a general rule that states that cooler air tends to be more oxygen-rich than warmer air. This means that cooler air is more desirable when a car attempts to achieve optimal combustion. Therefore, an engine is less likely to achieve its peak performance when a vehicle is operating in heat.

The horsepower numbers are low when a car operates in a less favorable environment. When the car is operating in more favorable conditions the vehicle makes more power.

What Is BHP, Power Loss Factors #2: Altitude

A change in the altitude can cause some notable functions in the power that is put out by an engine. This happens due to a variation in the oxygen density. Oxygen is one of the most important catalysts for combustion.

At high altitudes, the oxygen in the air reduces which causes a problem with the combustion inside the car. This can lead to a reduction in power causing the car to show a dip in the engine figures.

What Is BHP, Power Loss Factors #3: Transmission

All vehicles lose a certain amount of horsepowers as the engine output is delivered through the transmission. This is due to the normal drag that comes from transmission clutch packs, bearing, and seals. Horsepower and torque are also lost as the power travels through the torque converter, in the case of an automatic vehicle.

What Is BHP, Power Loss Factors #4: Component Wear

As a vehicle’s drivetrain parts/components get old, they start to go through some wear and tear. This happens due to excessive drag and friction. A worn-out and aging transmission can serve as a likely source of horsepower and torque fluctuation. Even worn-out and aged u-joints can play an integral part in reducing your vehicle’s overall output.

What Is BHP In Electric Cars

As electric cars do not have an internal combustion engine, they use lithium-ion batteries that allow the car to run. Because of this, there are manufacturers that struggle to determine the best way to rate the performance of a car.

Manufacturers initially used to measure the power of an electric car in the form of kilowatts. Many of these manufacturers have started converting wattage into a particular horsepower rating. These manufacturers have started doing this because of the long-standing familiarity with horsepower in the domestic market. This helps manufacturers define the vehicle output to all the customers.

To make it easier for consumers, one kilowatt is equivalent to 1.34 horsepower. It makes it easier for the consumers to obtain an accurate measure of performance. This helps consumers should be well accustomed to the power produced by electric cars.


As said before several individuals just entering the automobile market are wondering about “what is BHP” and “what is HP”? We have discussed these two abbreviations above, there are several differences between the two.

1. Figures

One of the biggest differences between BHP and HP is the numbers or the figures that are given to the public. HP is the number that is presented without taking into consideration the friction and different parts that might affect the performance of the vehicle. BHP, also known as brake horsepower, is relatively closer to the actual performance number of the car.

2. BHP Numbers

The difference between the two numbers is extremely little. In layman’s terms, 1 horsepower is the equivalent to just under 0.99 brake horsepower. You can start noticing the differences when you scale up. For example, a car with 600 HP will have approximately 570 brake horsepower.

Manufacturers usually publish the power figures in the form of horsepower. This happens as they can market a higher number than usual. To counteract this there are several traditional car magazines still using a conversion from HP to BHP to help the consumers.

3. Technique For Measurement

Another one of the main differences between these two is the way they are measured. When we talk about horsepower, the way to measure it is through something called an engine dynamometer. The engine is connected to a dynamometer, which uses a torque converter to measure the power produced by the engine.

On the other hand, when we talk about BHP, it is measured through a device called a flywheel. The break of the car is applied to this flywheel. It is the intensity of this brake that determines the BHP of your vehicle.

Engine Power and Torque: What You Need to Know

  1. Torque is the force that causes an object to rotate around an axis, while power is the rate at which work is done over time.
  2. An engine’s power is measured by running the engine against a load on a dynamometer, while its torque is measured by the braking effort needed to hold the engine at a steady speed on full throttle.
  3. An engine that produces a lot of torque over a wide range of engine speeds will be relaxing to drive and will not need to be turning over very quickly, making it more fuel-efficient.
  4. Engines that produce a lot of power for their size do not usually produce so much torque and are less suitable for tasks like towing.
  5. Highly tuned engines may have a higher maximum speed, but they would only accelerate better if the gearbox was used to the full to keep the engine speed up.
  6. Changes in gearing are important when looking at power and torque because the gears act as torque multipliers.
  7. The balance between power and torque is crucial for engine designers as power versus aerodynamic drag determines maximum speed, but torque versus weight determines acceleration.
  8. The torque delivered to the driving wheels can be around ten times greater than the engine’s torque output in first gear, while the speed of rotation will have reduced by a similar factor.
  9. The amount of power an engine develops can be measured on a dynamometer, and the results can be plotted on a graph to show the torque and brake horsepower curves.
  10. A fast road tune engine sacrifices some fuel economy for increased power, and although it develops more top-end power, it requires more gearchanging and is a less ‘lazy’ drive.


I hope the answer to the question, “what is BHP?” has been explained clearly enough. BHP is the relatively more realistic measure of the power output of your engine. It is used by many car magazines and YouTube channels that can help you know more about the car and the power it actually produces.

Most manufacturers use HP to market their cars and it doesn’t take into consideration various outside measures. This is why BHP is extremely important and it is used by several automotive enthusiasts around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are several questions that individuals have related to the question “what is BHP?”. Here are some of these answers to some of the questions that are on the minds of different individuals.

What Does HP Stand For

The full form of HP is horsepower. A horsepower is a unit of measurement of power or the energy that is produced by a car or a bike engine. Even though manufacturers market the HP numbers of different cars, HP is not always accurate. Horsepower doesn’t take into consideration the different outside factors like friction.

What Is BHP In Cars

The full form for BHP is called brake horsepower. BHP or brake horsepower is the measurement of the power output of a car just like the HP. the only difference is before the energy is delivered to the vehicle’s transmission and drivetrain. It is the more accurate unit for measuring the power or energy of your vehicle. Even though BHP is relatively more accurate than HP it still is not 100% correct.

What Is BHP Vs HP

One of the main differences between BHP and HP is the measurement itself. Horsepower or HP is the measurement of power or energy produced by an engine of an automobile. HP even though it is used by manufacturers is not 100% accurate. Horsepower doesn’t take into consideration the different outside factors like friction. On the other hand, BHP is also a unit for the measurement that helps to identify the power of a certain vehicle. The difference is that the BHP measurement is relatively more accurate than the HP measurements. This is because BHP takes into consideration some of the outside forces like friction. BHP numbers are usually the real power produced by an engine. BHP figures are received after the power has gone through the transmission and the drivetrain.

What Is BHP Vs CC

BHP stands for the brake horsepower of a vehicle. As explained above, the BHP of a car is the unit of power after the power has traveled from the engine through the transmission and drivetrain. BHP is a relatively accurate form of measurement for your automobile and it is measured with the help of something called a flywheel. On the other hand, CC is the short form for cubic capacity. CC usually indicates the volume or the capacity of the cylinder inside the engine. More volume or higher the CC of an engine, the more fuel it can burn at a given point in time. The more fuel a car can burn the more power it can produce.

What Is A Good BHP For A Car

There are several cars available on the market and most of them come with different engine sizes and horsepower numbers. But usually or more commonly, small cars can produce an amount of 120 BHP on average. Biggers cars like an SUV, sedans, or family cars’ horsepower is around 180 to 200 horsepower. Anything above 200 horsepower is considered to be a performance-oriented vehicle. That is why even though the average power output of cars is between 120 to 200 horsepowers, there are cars that easily produce much more power than that. Even luxury cars produce a high amount of horsepower.

What Does Liter Mean In An Engine

Engine size is also known as the engine capacity or the engine displacement. This refers to the total volume of the cylinders in an engine and it is usually expressed in letters pr cubic centimeters. So, therefore, a car with about 1000 cc (cubic centimeters) could be referred to as a 1.0-liter engine.

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