Rabu, 22 Februari 2012

How Do We Measure a Car's Performance?

If you grew up around cars and car lovers, you probably hung out at some local parking lot in the evening on designated nights, where people would drive their modified cars to show off, compare, and exchange mechanical secrets.

In some cases, perhaps these meet-ups would lead to drag racing. Because drag racing is more often than not frowned upon by the local authorities, not to mention residents, comparing car performances should be left to talking shop and matching stats.

What do we talk about when we talk about a car's performance? One of the most common numbers people will offer as proof of their engine's power is horsepower. Another figure is a car's zero to sixty time. These two above figures do give an indication of car's ability for speed.

But what is left out of the equation is that these figures are only one hundred per cent reliable if one is assuming that the roads being driven on are completely flat, smooth and straight. This is never the case in real life, where roads are never one hundred per cent even.

Taking into consideration turns, irregularities, bumps and slopes, one must add the car's suspension into the mix to get an overall idea of its performance. Skilled auto mechanics will tell you that without a good suspension, horsepower and zero to sixty are worthless. Here is a breakdown of these three factors:

As stated above, suspension is what allows a car to run smoothly over any type of road surface. The suspension helps the tires remain smoothly on the road in any condition. It absorbs the shock from bumps, keeping the wheels from hitting the frame. It also shifts the weight of the car so that all four wheels remain firmly on the road during fast acceleration, braking, and sharp turns.

This is the power of the engine, which is why it is one of the most popular figures to define a car's performance. It is how much work the engine can do within a specific time. The term comes from the old statistic that it takes one full minute for a single horse to pull 33,000 pounds the distance of one foot.

Zero To Sixty 
The proper term for this is the car's acceleration, meaning how much time it takes for a car to reach 60 miles (or 100 kilometers) from a still position. This figure is a little more practical than pure horsepower because it is not simply an engine statistic. But there are many factors that can affect the acceleration, like tire pressure, road conditions, and driver's abilities.

For anyone interested in cars beyond the regular local parking lot meet-ups, understanding suspension, horsepower and acceleration are all an important first step to really knowing what one is talking about regarding performance. If one wants to pursue an automotive career in either servicing or modifying cars, it is fundamental to understand the relationship between these factors for guaranteeing the smoothest and best ride.