Car 101 – RPM What It Means

Car Dash RPM (Rotation Per Minute), Oil Temperature, Fuel and Speedometer Closeup Photo. Modern Vehicle Dash. Transportation Photo Collection

Ever wonder what RPM stands for or even what it means?  It has come to our attention that most people have some resonance of an idea of what it might mean, but really have never looked into to any further.  Unless you are a gearhead or a petrolhead depending on where you live, then you might not know what this stands for or who the Stig is for that matter.

RPM stands for Revolutions Per Minute.  In layman’s terms it is how many times your engine cycles.  The range of RPM on a dash is primarily the same you have a gauge that ranges from 0-8 and in the upper ranges there might be a red line. This is what is commonly known as redlining it, or taking it to the limit, in this case your car’s potential. Full throttle if you will. At this measurement you want to beware, this is the maximum pressure your car components are designed to take so you want to stay out of this area if at all possible or you will be unpleasantly surprised when you take it in to get serviced and it costs you hundreds of dollars.

When you get into your car first thing in the morning and you start it up, before putting it in gear and driving off you are supposed to wait until the RPM go below 1, 000, this lets you know that the engine is warm and that it is now at idle, your engine is not being asked to perform while it is not yet ready.  The engine is where it needs to be and this usually takes around two minutes.  Most of us just jump in our cars and head down the I-10 or the I-45 in Houston.

Back to RPM and what it really stands for, it is a unit of measurement, this is important because it tells you how your engine is running.  If your engine is running slowly when you press on the gas or the RPM remains low – then the combustion that happens in your engine to propel it forward doesn’t happen with enough intensity. Now, if your RPMs are too high then that is also problematic, the pistons move up and down in the cylinders of the engine block to create pressure and ignite the fuel trapped within and you lose power too. You do not get the full potential of the explosion because it does not have time to complete the cycle, it only goes in mini burst.  Either way, it is a problem.

When you press on the gas and your car does not move and the RPMS go really high this could be an indication that your car is in the wrong gear. Do you remember what it was like to learn to drive a stick shift or a manual car? Seeing the RPM go all the way to the red while you were hopelessly trying to start in second gear.  This is a clear example of that.

RPM can also refer to the optimum amount when it comes to torque.  The torque is the actual maximum force and thrust and this is reached usually between 4,000 – 6,000 RPM. We hope this clarified a few things for you, that is our goal to provide excellent service with excellent information and support.