Pickup trucks are great vehicles. They can haul bulky items because they have a large opening tailgate. The only downside of the tailgate is that the rear lights must be positioned at the vehicle sides. This means the large tailgate area is essentially invisible at night. For some trucks, you can buy LED light strips which install under the tailgate, but those are expensive and require wiring.
A better alternative is to use highly reflect tape (also called conspicuity tape) and attach it to the open area just under a truck's tailgate. Reflective tape is self illuminating and does not require power from the vehicle. Any light is enough to illuminate the strip and make your truck more visible. I purchased two 36 inch strips of 2 inch wide tape from tapebrothers online.
So, let's get started
Step 1: Remove the Tailgate From the Vehicle
This will make it much easier to clean the area and install the tape. Your owner's manual should have the information for safely removing the tailgate. It is heavy, so you may need an extra person to help. I put my tailgate in the back of the truck with the painted side facing up.
Some trucks have a rear camera, so you must disconnect the wires first. You owners manual will have info regarding the camera wiring.
Step 2: Clean the Area Before Taping
The area is just under the bed liner and above the bumper. If you use 2 inch tape, then it should fit perfectly. Use a good cleaner to make sure all dirt is removed so the tape will be able to stick. You can also use rubbing alcohol to prep the area and remove any oil.
Step 3: Start Applying Tape
I start at the corner and work my way across the truck. Make sure to line up with the bottom of the bed, so the tape is straight across. Work in small segments and remove the tape backing in increments so you can set the adhesive as you go. I like to work in 4 inch segments so the tape doesn't try to stick to itself. Use scissors to remove excess backing so it doesn't get in the way. I purchased two 36 inch tape segments because most trucks have a hole in the back for the spare tire lift. This is a perfect place to end the tape segment.
Step 4: Cut Out Holes for Wiring and Access
Most trucks will have a hole for the spare tire lift and some trucks will have rear cameras. I cover these holes with the tape and then cut out the holes with an exacto knife. For square holes, I make an X shaped cut and then push the extra tape into the hole.
Use a cloth and push down on the tape to make sure it has firmly attached. If you go slow, you should not have too many air bubbles. If you have big air bubbles, try to work them out using the flat edge of a credit card. Small air bubbles will work themselves out in time.
Step 5: Admire Your New Tailgate
Just a small amount of light should be enough to illuminate the back of your truck. The more light, the greater the glow. It's amazing how the tape seems to intensify the light and appear to illuminate without power.