Sometimes your factory rear lights just aren’t enough. They could be dim because of age, or because your vehicle didn’t get the fancy LED optional lights, or maybe you just want an upgrade because you’re tired of other drivers not seeing you at night. It could also be that you just want a style upgrade. Whatever the reason, there are LED light bars that can offer you more. More turn signal, more brake light, more running light, more marker light, and even LED rainbows.
If you own a pickup truck or an SUV, a tailgate light bar is a great way to add an extra layer of safety and functionality to your vehicle. Most of these products are easy to install, using adhesive tape on the back, so you simply peel and stick the light bar onto your tailgate. A plug-and-play connector is also typically included, which attaches to your trailer plug.
When shopping for a tailgate light bar, you’ll have to determine just how bright of a product you need. Light bars can feature anywhere from one to four rows of LED lights and vary in length, from 48 to 60 inches. Most of them are also universal, which means you won’t have to shop for a vehicle-specific application, although that also means sometimes a product won’t work as well on your vehicle as others.
These best LED tailgate light bars make sure you’re seen on the road while adding functionality thanks to extra nighttime light for when you’re reversing, loading, or just looking for something that’s behind your vehicle.
For more information on the best tailgate light bars, refer to our table of contents.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: Nilight Truck Tailgate Bar (TR-04)
- 2. HYB LED Tailgate Light Bar
- 3. MAXHAWK Double Row LED Tailgate Light Bar
- 4. ONLINE LED STORE LED Tailgate Light Bar
- 5. Partsam Tailgate LED Light Bar
- 6. Putco Blade LED Light Bar
- 7. Nilight LED Trailer Light Bar
- 8. RT-TCZ Rear Glass Lift Gate LED Light Bar
- 9. Partsam ID Bar Marker Light
- 10. Master Tailgaters Truck Flag Swirl LED Pole
- What to Look for When Shopping for a Tailgate Light Bar
- How to Install a Tailgate Light Bar
1. Editor's Pick: Nilight Truck Tailgate Bar (TR-04)
This recommendation features 504 LEDs lined up in three rows for extra brightness, measuring 60-inches wide and the manufacturer says it will light up the night with an output 300 percent more than other light bars. Six functions also do their part to make sure that you’re seen by every other vehicle behind you.
There is a dark red running light, a bright red light for when you apply the brakes, white lights for when you’re reversing, and when you go to signal there are sequential amber lights. A sequential strobe light for emergencies makes it even easier to be seen on the side of the road. Installation is easy thanks to the included peel and stick adhesive tape, along with an adhesive enhancer that makes it hold to your tailgate even stronger for longer-lasting grip. If you want more than just tape, this light strip comes with three brackets and self-tapping screws.
- Six light patterns
- Comes with self-tapping brackets
- Extra-bright three-row design
2. HYB LED Tailgate Light Bar
Worried about water getting into your light bar and causing issues over time like failed LEDs and the horrible appearance that comes with it? This LED light bar for your truck is rated with an IP68 waterproof rating. That means it’s resistant to water more than a meter deep for more than 30 minutes. It’s also resistant to dust getting into the lights. So if you’re planning on backing your boat down the ramp, that gives you extra confidence that it won’t cost you a failed light.
The 432 LED bulbs are rated for 30,000 hours of life, and the assembly has a one-year warranty. The included double-sided adhesive trim tape is advertised as being from 3M, again lending itself to a long-life product with no need to worry about it down the road. The bar offers six lighting functions including reverse and strobe, though as with many of the others, an additional hookup is needed for reverse.
- IP68 waterproof rating
- 3M adhesive
- One-year warranty
3. MAXHAWK Double Row LED Tailgate Light Bar
Not a fan of amber turn signal lights not matching the red lights that came stock on your truck? Not a problem, with this LED light bar from MAXHAWK. With 216 LED lights in a double row, it offers turn signals in red-only, skipping amber completely. The brake lights are still red and the reverse lights are still white, letting it better match your truck’s factory appearance.
For a cool custom look, the turn signals light up sequentially like an expensive luxury sedan. This light bar is waterproof and measures 60-inches long, with half of the LED lights red and the other half white. The flexible design lets you fit it to your tailgate, but you can also attach these lights to a rear bumper for use with a crossover or even a sedan, as well as RVs and any vehicle with brake lights. A 12-month warranty comes with purchase, but professional installation is recommended.
- Sequential signals
- No amber lights
4. ONLINE LED STORE LED Tailgate Light Bar
While many of these bars offer a full-width reverse light, not everyone wants that as a feature. Because sometimes you just want to reverse, not tell the entire neighborhood about it. Plus your back up camera works quite well in the dark anyway and can be confused by all those LEDs. Instead, this bar offers just a thin strip of white LED lights for reverse, directly above where your license plate would normally be.
It offers tail lights, brighter brake lights, and sequential amber lights for both the turn signals as well as hazard lights, but that narrow reverse light sets this bar apart. So does its construction, because instead of a flexible bar that can loses its flex over time, this LED bar is built with a rigid aluminum frame, with LEDs enclosed in silicone. That means mounting with tape or included clips, but the rigid frame makes this bar much more capable of absorbing shock, vibration, and impact.
- Aluminum frame
- Smaller reverse light
- Clip-on metal installation brackets
5. Partsam Tailgate LED Light Bar
Instead of more LED lights to make it brighter, this bar from Partsam simply uses brighter lights. Just 48 red and 24 white LEDs are used, but it still puts out more light than other light bars. As a bonus, it gives the strip a unique look, too, more spaced out instead of a constant strip of light. Think more like the marker lights on the cab of a custom big rig.
This recommendation offers white and red without amber, but still has the lighting features you need. Tail lights, brake lights, left and right signals, and reversing lights. Built to resist water, dust, and rust, and to work at -20 degrees. For smaller tailgates, this light strip is just 48-inches long instead of the usual 60. That lets you position it as needed, allows you to fit it on a smaller pickup, or just alter the placement if you want it to sit in a slightly different spot.
- Larger LED lamps
- 48-inch length
- Waterproof design
6. Putco Blade LED Light Bar
This is one of the more premium options on our list, offering some features that others don’t—but it comes at a price. It uses Putco’s own chip-on-board LED lamps that are high-powered for extra brightness and maximum visibility. While the company does offer other colors, including blue and white options for law enforcement, this particular part number is for red and white, meaning you can use it on your truck.
It’s stacked with more LEDs than most other brands, with over 2,000 on this Blade installation, and that makes you even more likely to be seen. With this many lights, it looks more like a neon tube than a light strip, without the fragility of neon. An IP69 waterproof rating means that it can withstand high-temperature, pressurized water, which is something more severe than you’re likely to see on the road. Quick connect harnesses that are vehicle specific ensure easy connection and durable operation. This bar offers red brake, running, hazard, and signal lights with white reverse.
- Over 2,000 Putco LEDs
- IP69 rated
- Quick connect harness
7. Nilight LED Trailer Light Bar
Maybe your pickup isn’t a pickup at all, maybe it’s a Jeep? Or you don’t have a tailgate since you’re often hauling a gooseneck or fifth-wheel and use a net design instead? Check out these split light marker bars that can either mount to the back of the cab or split the bumper and sit on either side of your SUV’s rear-mounted spare tire.
Each of the 16-inch long lights has 11 LED lamps for brightness, sitting inside sealed polycarbonate housings to withstand mud, water, and salty air. These lamps can be used as turn signal repeaters or as running and brake lights (or both), letting you choose how you want your extra lamps to function. Also ideal for trailer ramps to add visibility when the ramp is folded up, or add to your ladder bracket or back of cab utility brackets in case they block your factory third brake light.
- Split lights for flexible mounting
- 11 bright LED lamps
- Can be mounted to trailer or truck
8. RT-TCZ Rear Glass Lift Gate LED Light Bar
So other cars can see you just fine, but what about when you’re looking to see what you’re doing or what’s in your cargo bay. Any night time loading and unloading, or activities like camping, fishing, and just hanging out outdoors can occasionally use more light. This LED light bar is designed to work like a super-bright auxiliary dome light, designed specifically for Jeep Wrangler models with a hardtop.
With a large number of bright white LED lights, this bar gives you plenty of extra lumens, making up for the Jeep’s lack of a cargo bay light. Because you don’t always need all of the light, and sometimes want none at all, an RF wireless remote control lets you operate the lights from as far as 15 feet away and remembers the last setting you had programmed in. Although it’s designed specifically for the hatch glass of a Jeep, this unit should work with any tailgate, especially if you have a truck bed cap that needs some extra illumination at night.
- Bright LED lights for better vision
- Remote control to adjust lighting
- Designed to fit Jeep hardtop hatch
9. Partsam ID Bar Marker Light
This option is a simple, affordable, and we’d say more tasteful way to add visibility to the back of your car, truck, camper, or trailer. This LED light bar has its lights arranged in three clusters so that it looks more like a trio of traditional marker lights instead of a full-width LED bar. Easier to install than a full-width bar, it is also more discreet.
It offers running as well as braking lights to show drivers you’re stopping, and an amber bar is available to add a matching set of lights to the front of your vehicle and either improve front visibility or just give your pickup big-rig looks. One wire installation thanks to a ground through one of the three mounting screws makes wiring a snap. The 14.25-inch wide bar has a black powder coating for durability and corrosion resistance as well as giving it a better look to go with your vehicle.
- One-wire install
- Available in multiple colors
- More discreet than full-width bars
10. Master Tailgaters Truck Flag Swirl LED Pole
Ok, this one is more for show than for visibility, and that means that you probably don’t want to be using it on the highway—at least depending on your local lighting regulations. It’s a flag pole designed to attach to the back of your truck and the five-foot whip has more than 300 LED lamps. Eight static colors and 16 brightness levels just begin to scratch the customization available from this light bar.
A wireless remote lets you control the 143 light modes and 10 speeds. From solid colors to rainbows of every type, to the red, white, and blue for you to wave the digital LED flag. This recommendation will make your truck stand out at whatever show you’re attending, and installation is quick and easy thanks to a billet aluminum mount that slides into your truck’s hitch receiver. The LED bar can be changed to different angles and has a quick-release if you want to take off the lights but leave the hitch connector in place.
- Hundreds of LED combinations
- A showpiece that will get attention
- Easy install and removal
What to Look for When Shopping for a Tailgate Light Bar
When it comes to the tailgate LEDs you want, the first thing to look at is the back of your rig. A smaller truck means a smaller bar is necessary, while a full-size tailgate means a longer bar is needed otherwise it won’t quite look right. Think about if you want LED lights running the full width of the back of your truck, if you want it to look like a solid neon lamp, or if you want just some extra simple marker lights. If you have a rear-mounted spare tire, then you’ll want a split-bar or small pair of lights. Same goes for if you’re putting these on the back of your RV or trailer.
Then decide the features you want. Want amber signals for contrast, or do you want to keep the otherwise all red look your truck left the factory with? Do you need extra white light to illuminate behind you when reversing? Do you want a strobing option to go along with your hazard flashers so that you’re more easily seen in an emergency? All of these options are covered by various recommendation on this list, so you can pick exactly what you want or need for your use.
How to Install a Tailgate Light Bar
Most of these LED light bars connect quickly and easily using a standard four-pin trailer wire harness. If your truck already has one of these harnesses to go along with the hitch, it’s an easy plug and play. If your truck doesn’t, adapters are available to affix to seven-pin connectors, and if you don’t have that then they’ll need to be wired directly to your vehicle’s lighting circuits. Because this requires careful selection of multiple wires as well as soldering, heat-shrinking, and other steps that could damage your vehicle’s wiring, if you’re not already familiar with vehicle electrics you should reach out for professional installation.
Attaching the lights themselves is usually as easy as peeling the back off of the double-sided tape. Clean the area where the lights will be affixed thoroughly with rubbing alcohol or similar, and when it dries you stick the lights in place. You’ll only get one chance with the adhesive, so make sure to test fit with some masking tape first or be ready to pry off the adhesive and replace it. Some bars include self-tapping screws and brackets. If you pick one of those bars, make sure to remove the mounting screw and apply paint to the newly drilled hole to prevent corrosion.
March 16, 2021: Updated the entire article with new product recommendations, descriptions, and images so that product selection is up to date.
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