RPM is an abbreviation for Revolutions Per Minute. In the automotive industry the term RPM is used when referring to a motor vehicle’s engine speed. The tachometer is an instrument that is able to measure the speed of rotation of the internal combustion engine’s crankshaft at a given moment. The rate of rotation of an internal combustion engine’s crankshaft varies on how much power is required from the combustion process. Therefore RPM is the amount of revolutions the crankshaft in an internal combustion engine experiences in 1 minute.
The faster the engine’s crankshaft rotates, the higher the RPM will be. And generally speaking, the faster the crankshaft rotates, the closer you’ll get be to an engines maximum torque and horsepower output.
Technology and engine design is improving all the time. As a result, the internal combustion engines are becoming – not only more powerful – but the engine crankshafts are able to rotate/spin at higher speeds more smoothly and safely. Eight thousand rpm is a limit becoming common place for a number of engine designs to spin their crankshaft freely up to. It might just be a matter of time before passenger cars will run freely to 10 000 rpm and beyond – territory currently reserved for racing cars. We hope that helps answer the question ‘What is What is an RPM?’!
Back to Car Glossary