As a Vanagon owner of 3 years now I can easily say breakdowns happen. My worst fear is breaking down on the side of the road at night. I’m always looking for ways to make such a breakdown as safe as possible for me and for other drivers on the roadway. A fellow member Antoine here in Houston shared a safety tip with me, he placed a couple of strips of reflective safety tape on his deck for just that situation. A-ha! GENIUS!
With reflective safety tape on your deck lid, in the case of a night time breakdown now you can remove the deck lid and face the tape side towards oncoming traffic and let the reflective tape do its job. No batteries required, nothing to remember to pack for a trip or and item to charge. This Reflective Tape takes up zero amount of storage space yet can be key in keeping you safe in the event of a night time break down.
I chose a roll of Reflexite Retroreflective Tape (Red) and a roll of Reflexite Retroreflective Tape (Silver) in order to install. I chose the 1″x15ft rolls which is just enough to cover all 14 raised ridges of the fiberglass deck lid.
I have a Blazecut Fire Suppression system mounted to the underside of my deck lid and I’ve placed the Zip Tie heads in the “valleys” of the deck lid so they don’t tear my rear cushion. This comes in handy as now I can install this reflective tape on all of the “peaks” of the deck lid pretty easily.
Start by sweeping any dirt or debris off of the deck lid.
Spray some Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner onto the deck lid in order to clean any oil or greasy residue from the deck lid. This cleaner will help clean residue from the deck lid so that the reflective tape adheres well.
Take a clean rag and wipe down the “peaks” of the deck lid where the reflective tape will mount to. This cleaning step is very important in the install process as it’ll make the surface ready to accept the adhesive backing of the reflective tape.
Once the deck lid is clean and dry, you should be able to squeak your fingers across the top of the deck lid. This is a good indicator that all of the oily residue has been removed. If the “peaks” still feel oily, repeat the cleaning process until you can make your fingers squeak across the surface.
I started with the Reflexite Retroreflective Tape (Red). There’s a small piece of gaff tape at the end of the reflective tape roll which helps keep the roll secure. You’ll use this piece of gaff tape in order to help one end of the tape secure to the deck lid as you measure out each length. Keep in mind the backing is STILL ON the tape so there is nothing sticking to the deck lid yet.
Extend the reflective tape to where the “peak” ends. Take note of this location and find a guide line in the reflective tape to use as a cut line.
The reflective tape has perpendicular lines in the design at about an 1/8th inch spacing. These lines work great as cut lines so be sure to use them as a reference. This makes things so much easier.
Separate the reflective tape and the protective backing about an inch or two. Careful not to handle the sticky side of the tape as you can diminish the sticking ability with the oils from your skin. Tack down one end of the strip you’ve cut.
Carefully walk your way forwards applying light pressure to the tape and pulling off the protective backing at the same time. The process is pretty easy.
The first strip is completed. Now on to the other strips…
Take the piece of gaff tape you used on the first strip and add it to the loose end of the tape roll. You’ll repeat the process as mentioned before, temporarily placing the tape on the deck lid so you can measure how long the strip needs to be. Using the perpendicular guidelines on the tape as a cut line.
Continue adding red reflective tape to every other “peak” on the fiberglass deck lid.
Now we move onto adding the Reflexite Retroreflective Tape (Silver) tape to the “peaks” of the deck lid using the same method that’s been described.
Leaving the deck lid fastened in place makes it easier to install the reflective tape.
Once you’ve finished most of the tape install, remove the deck lid and angle it such that allows you to add reflective tape to the “peaks ” of the deck lid that were covered by the rear cabinet.
Add the remaining pieces of reflective tape.
Take the clean, dry portion of the rag you used earlier to clean the deck lid with and apply a little pressure while wiping down each strip of reflective tape you’ve installed. This will help make sure the adhesive backing it securely stuck to the fiberglass deck lid.
Reinstall the deck lid into the engine bay. There will be about 24″ left of each color of reflective tape.
The project is complete. Total install time took less than 30 minutes and it will be a great plus having this installed if you ever break down at night and need to work on the engine on the roadside. Simply place the deck lid with the reflective tape facing the oncoming traffic and it’ll light up as their headlights hit the tape. This will grab their attention and slow down… making you much safer.
Here’s a quick video of the deck lid. Lights off, driving lights only, headlights on (low beam) then high beam on…