What are rpms?

What are rpms and how do they work? The more rpms, the more power? Do they affect gas consumption?

Vladimir, Elizabeth, N.J.

Revolutions per minute (rpm) is a measurement of how fast the engine’s internal components are spinning. An engine makes its optimum power at a certain rpm, like 5,500 rpm, and the closer the rpm is to that, the faster it can accelerate.

The harder you mash the accelerator pedal the faster the rpm will climb, so the higher the rpm the more gasoline you’re going to burn. The gauge that measures rpm is a tachometer; it's usually placed right next to the speedometer.

One of the advantages of having a tachometer is that rpm shows how hard the engine is working. If you keep the rpm low, you can do a decent job of saving gas.


A typical engine can spin up to 6,000 rpm, with high-performance engines in sports cars like the Honda S2000, or the BMW M5 shown above, revving up to 9,000 rpm.

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Answered by Joe Bruzek on May 29, 2007 in What Does This Mean? | Permalink

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