LAST UPDATED: September 4, 2019
Best Tailgate Light Bars: The Best Picks to Stay Visible on the Road
A tailgate light bar can improve the safety of your truck with additional lighting
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON September 4, 2019
Even if your truck has powerful, built-in tail lights, sometimes you need some extra lighting. You want to ensure that the drivers around you can clearly see your truck as well as its turn signals and brakes. An LED truck tail light bar comes with one to three rows of lights, which also creates a unique look. In this buying guide, we’ve selected the best light bars on the market based on their qualities, value, and ease of use.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Tailgate Light Bars
- Brightness. The primary goal of an LED tailgate light bar is to increase visibility for drivers around you and to prevent an accident. One of the most important factors to consider is how bright your light bar will appear at night, especially during periods of low visibility, such as fog, rain, or snow.
- Ease of installation. A good LED light bar doesn’t have to require wiring or that you be a professional auto mechanic to install it. Many of the most popular products on the market are easy to install with minimal or no tools required.
- Aesthetics. The best tailgate light bar will upgrade the look of your vehicle and add some style to your ride. They provide a distinctive look that can set your truck apart from others on the road.
Types of Tailgate Light Bars
The easiest LED light bar to install doesn’t require any tools in order to mount it on your truck. This is the quickest and simplest type to install. It relies on a durable adhesive to securely place it in your desired location.
It’s also common to find tailgate light bars that require tools for proper installation. However, if you opt for a style that does need to be screwed securely into place, select a product model that comes with the necessary hardware, such as brackets and screws.
Many tailgate light bars come with the option for quick adhesive installation or more secure screw placement, depending on your needs. If you’re concerned that your car will be exposed to more rugged environments, opt for tool installation.
OPT7 is a fan favorite because of its length variations and its compatibility with most makes and models. Its light bars are considered some of the easiest to install and use with no drilling and minimal wiring required for reverse signal function. The brand is also known for its premium aftermarket light accessories that range from LED strips to actual head and tail lights. OPT7 is headquartered in California. One popular product is the AURA Pro LED Strip Kit.
PARTSam is an aftermarket American brand that exclusively focuses on accessories designed just for trucks. There’s a level of detail that gives consumers the peace of mind that this brand is specialized rather than trying to cover all types of vehicles. It focuses on providing live customer service that isn’t outsourced to a third party. Besides the tailgate light strips, the brand also creates other lighting accessories and an electric hoist to help improve your truck’s workflow.
MICTUNING is another popular brand of U.S.-based aftermarket LED light kits. In addition to its light strips, the company also offers wiring and switch accessories to easily integrate their products into your vehicle. While MICTUNING focuses on trucks, it also creates accessories for off-road vehicles, such as ATVs and UTVs.
Tailgate Light Bar Pricing
- $15 to 50: Many tailgate light bars fall into this price range. Here, you should be able to find a product that offers signaling options, easy installation with minimal wiring, and LEDs that are rated to last for at least 30,000 hours.
- Over $50: While the bulk of the items on the market are very budget-friendly, some of the most top-rated tend to be over $50. They offer the same functions as those at the lower price point but are more appealing because of their brighter LED light bars, larger variety of lengths, and greater make and model compatibility.
Your tailgate light bar needs to be visible to other drivers if you want to prevent an accident. Look for products that feature 3528 LEDs and promise a long lifespan. Most tailgate light bars are designed to last for up to 30,000 hours of use.
One of the biggest factors you need to consider when purchasing a tailgate light bar is whether the brand you’re thinking of buying will work with the make and model of your vehicle. Many brands—including the ones in our review—support multiple manufacturers, models, and years. However, it’s best to double-check before making a purchase.
The best tailgate light bars are meant to be used year-round and in difficult conditions. Look for products that are weatherproof, rated for use in freezing temperatures, and most importantly, are designed for long-term use.
Having a tailgate light bar that also works as a signal can only help you and the drivers around you. Many brands offer two-color LEDs to seamlessly switch between red or amber for turns and braking and white for reverse light functionality.
- Wiring: Most brands claim their tailgate light bars as easy to install if you want to use them for signal indicators. But if you want to make the tailgate light bar work with a reverse white LED signal, you may need to do some additional wiring.
- Easy Installation: The best tailgate light bars are easy to install. While you can choose between options that attach with adhesive or screws, the main objective is how quickly you can connect the light bar to your truck’s existing lighting framework so that it works as an additional signal indicator.
Best Tailgate Light Bar Reviews & Recommendations 2020
OPT7 offers the strongest lighting available with its three-row tailgate light bar. It features 1,200 individual LED lights for a seamless beam of light guaranteed to work for 50,000 hours of use. This includes red and white LEDs that can also double as part of your vehicle’s overall signal indicator system. The light comes with a two-year warranty. The OPT7 tailgate light bar is available in 48 and 60 inches and with a choice between amber or red turn signal light displays.
The OPT7 is one of the highest-rated and most popular tailgate light bars based on consumer reviews. The lights are easy to install and are very bright, especially in bad weather. In addition, it’s a weather-resistant product that can withstand various environmental conditions. It can work on RVs, campers, trailers, and other vehicles.
A common complaint about the OPT7 model is that it can be difficult to configure the tailgate light bar to work with a vehicle’s reverse signals. Aso, it may require you to splice the wire into your existing tail light’s wiring. However, a workaround is possible if you use a connector that allows you to bypass your tail light wiring.
The PARTSam 60-inch LED Tailgate Light Bar offers function for a fraction of the price. The LED strip can be mounted with the included 3M heavy-duty mounting adhesive or hardware. The tailgate light bar also works with your truck’s built-in signal light system. One of the biggest draws is the LEDs that are bright enough to provide visibility during bad weather. This is one of the brightest tailgate light bars you can find at this price point. The PARTSam tailgate light bar also works with a variety of vehicle models, such as Ford, Jeep, GMC, Chevy, Dodge, and RAM trucks.
PARTSam’s 60-inch tailgate light bar is a highly rated and affordable accessory. It is easy to install and produces bright lights, even under low visibility conditions. Another benefit is that the included adhesive is attached to the back of the entire strip rather than at a few strategic points.
One of the drawbacks is its compatibility with Ford F150 trucks. Owners of the Ford F150 2015 and later versions may find it hard to mount the light bar onto the truck’s tailgate. You may be forced to jam the light strip around existing bolts for a less secure fit. Another concern—specifically with this truck model—is with wiring issues for the built-in plugs. Mislabeled wires can lead to confusion when connecting it to the truck’s wires.
Our honorable mention goes to the MICTUNING 60-inch Triple 504 LEDs Tailgate Light Bar. It is moderately priced but has the functionality to make driving your truck safer. This tailgate light model is a triple-row tail light with bright LEDs like the OPT7. This particular model also allows for the turn, brake, and reverse light signaling. The MICTUNING light bar is waterproof, rust-resistant, and rated for cold weather.
One of this product’s biggest selling points is how easy it is to install because of its heavy-duty adhesive and four-way flat connector wire-no tools are required. Another great feature is the brightness of the LED light bar, especially when considering the price. Also, the fade animation offers a high-end effect, specifically for the turn signal indicators.
However, a common issue is an incompatibility with certain makes and models of trucks. Depending on your truck’s configuration, the tailgate light bar doesn’t lay flat against the tailgate if your truck features a spare tire grommet. Another problem is that the signal indicators could fail over time.
- Always measure the tailgate on your vehicle before purchasing a tailgate light bar in order to make sure it will fit properly and isn’t too small or too large.
- Choosing between an adhesive versus hardware mount is going to be dependent upon the type of environment you expect to encounter. For city driving and light activities, an adhesive mount will be more than adequate. But if you plan to travel off road or in extreme weather, hardware will give you a more secure mount.
- Read reviews that outline people’s experiences configuring tailgate light bars with their truck’s light system. Based on this, you can determine whether the installation process will be simple or more complex than you expected.
Q: How do I know if a tailgate light bar is right for my vehicle?
A: Most reputable brands specifically outline the make, model, and year of trucks and cars that are compatible with their products. When in doubt, take advantage of customer support options to ask questions in advance.
Q: I want a tailgate light bar that’s easy to install with my truck’s signal light system. What do I need to know?
A: Most tailgate light bars available today can be easily installed to work with turn and brake signals with very little effort. However, the reverse white light functionality often requires that you have an understanding of wiring. Always check the instruction manual to confirm the best way to configure your tailgate light.
Q: How can I be sure a tailgate light bar is bright enough for my truck?
A: Brightness is a key factor for this product. So, look for brands that highlight the total quantity of LED lights within the entire strip. The more LEDs, the brighter your tailgate light bar will be, and it will also create a continuous light effect.
If bright and solid LED strips are your core focus, the OPT7 60” Redline Triple LED Tailgate Bar is ideal because of its bright display, tri-color potential, and easy installation. Budget-focused drivers will love the PARTSam 60” LED Tailgate Light Bar because of its bright display, 3M heavy-duty mounting adhesive, and attractive price point.