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A dead pedal is a foot rest located to the left of the other pedals in a car. Racing vehicles and commercial cars with manual transmission, especially upmarket models and vehicles with steering on the right-hand side, are often equipped with a dead pedal. Usually, this pedal has a metal plate or rubber pad, but some are simply a raised portion of the floor, and some race cars might be equipped with a moving dead pedal.
The dead pedal serves primarily as a foot rest so that the driver is not tempted to ride the clutch. Even when pressure is not applied, placing the foot on the clutch will cause additional wear. In addition, the pedal’s raised position makes for a more comfortable driving experience.
Racing cars in particular include dead pedals to cut response time. A foot resting on the floor must swing up and around the clutch pedal and can misstep or catch on the pedal’s side instead of stepping squarely on the top. Keeping the foot in a raised position makes clutching easier, quicker and smoother. Road vehicles equipped with these pedals enjoy the same advantages.
Drivers might take advantage of these pedals when executing sharp turns or braking. When the driver anticipates a difficult maneuver or even a collision, bracing keeps the driver from sliding and helps the driver maintain control of the vehicle. Without this pedal, the driver is more likely to try to reflexively brace with the right foot, even if that foot has not yet moved to the brake from the accelerator.
Not all cars are equipped with a dead pedal. Many of the advantages of using one are associated with manual transmission vehicles, and manufacturers often leave them out of automatics. Cars with left-side driving already have a raised portion of the floor because of the wheel well, and this might function as a dead pedal even if no pad or plate is installed. A car driven from the right side, where the driver’s left foot is in the vehicle’s center, is more likely to have a dead pedal installed.
Even when cars are not equipped with factory-installed dead pedals, aftermarket pedals are widely available and can be installed by most mechanics. For drivers who are not concerned with cosmetics and who wish for a purely functional foot rest, a simple wooden block can be fixed in position. Drivers who want a pedal that matches the vehicle’s other pedals can find a wide variety of designs in auto parts stores and through online vendors.