Best Car Buffers: Top Polishers For A Detailed Look
The top car buffers that will give your car a fresh new look
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PUBLISHED ON June 11, 2019
Professional car polishers and best buffers can create a brand new look for your vehicle, and you can get that same clean and shiny appearance by investing in a car buffer for your home garage. If you're looking for the best car buffer on the market, our car buffer buying guide will help you narrow down the search.
- Best OverallPorter-Cable Variable Speed PolisherSummarySummaryThis random orbital buffer is 4.5 amps and includes an electronic variable-speed dial from 2,500-6,800 OPM. It uses a 6-inch sanding and polishing pad and has a two-position, removable side handle.ProsProsThis beginner-friendly polisher is comfortable, durable, easy to use, and creates a quick and perfect finish. It's useful on smaller and harder-to-reach areas such as under the mirror or hood.ConsConsIt may be tricky to control at low speeds, it has a strong vibration, and it's loud. Over time it may not operate fully on all variable speeds.
- Best ValueBlack+Decker Variable Speed PolisherSummarySummaryThis random orbital polisher weighs 5.3 pounds, emits 4,400 orbits per minute, has a two-handle design for comfort, and features a 10-foot cord to accommodate cars and boats.ProsProsIt is lightweight, not very loud, and makes polishing, buffing, and waxing easier and faster. It has a nice, ergonomic design that enables you to use it in hard-to-reach places.ConsConsThe polisher is not super powerful, and it may stop spinning if you put too much pressure on it. The pads that come with the device are not high quality.
- Honorable MentionDeWALT 7-Inch/9-Inch Variable Speed PolisherSummarySummaryThis 12-amp polisher has ball-bearing construction and a variable speed dial that lets you set the maximum speed from zero to 600/3500 RPM. The spindle thread is 5/8-inch-11.ProsProsIt's comfortable, powerful, high in quality, durable, and easy to use. It has a soft start and stays at the RPM regardless of load. The speed control is also precise.ConsConsIt's heavy and may burn paint if not used correctly. It may be difficult to find a 9-inch backing plate, and it may not last very long if used daily.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Car Buffers
- Remove scratches and restore the shine. When buffing or polishing your vehicle, you're removing oxidation, stains, and deep scratches. The best car buffer will bring back your vehicle’s shine and revitalize its look.
- Save time. The best car buffer polisher will give your vehicle a newer, cleaner look much faster than if you do the same job by hand. A power buffer for a car will help you complete the task faster, and it will also require a lot less energy.
- Save money. When you take your vehicle to the local detailing shop for wax and shine, it can cost quite a bit of money, particularly if you do so on a regular basis. By investing in the best car buffer for the money, you can do the job yourself and not worry about paying someone else to do it.
- Be versatile. The best car buffer has a lot of options compared to polishing your vehicle by hand. You can choose from various polishing pads and heads for specific results.
- Maintain your vehicle's value. Depending on what type of car you have, it can be a significant investment. To ensure that your vehicle stays in tip-top condition, use a polisher to keep the vehicle looking good.
Types of Car Buffers
A rotary polisher usually has a direct drive motor and auger that spins the polishing pad in a clockwise direction. It's an effective buffer; however, it repeatedly polishes the same area over and over again. You’ll need to make sure that you don't overdo it by going through both the clear coat and the layer of paint below it. They are commonly used by professionals and are not recommended for first-time users.
A random orbital buffer, AKA dual-action car buffer, spins the polishing pad in two ways. The pad rotates in a large circle, but it also oscillates in several small circles within the larger circle. This wobbling motion prevents friction and too much heat as it removes imperfections from your paint. A dual-action polisher tends to be easier to use than rotary buffers, but it has much less power.
Located in Towson, Md., Porter-Cable was established in 1906 as a jobbing machine and tool shop. In addition to polishers, they produce drills, saws, grinders, air compressors, and other tools. One top product is the Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher.
DeWalt Products Company was formed in Leola, Penn., in 1924 with the launch of the electric universal woodworking machine, mortiser, and jointer. In 2018, the company celebrated its 100th anniversary of the Product Service Division of Stanley Black & Decker. One popular product is the DeWALT 7-Inch/9-Inch Variable Speed Polisher.
This company started with young entrepreneurs S. Duncan Black and Alonzo G. Decker, who launched a machine shop in Baltimore, Md., in 1910. Products include power tools, lawn and garden items, and home appliances. One top buffer is the Black+Decker Variable Speed Polisher.
Makita Corporation was founded in 1915 as an electric motor sales and repair company. Today, the company manufactures products at 10 plants in eight countries. The Makita U.S.A., Inc. head office is located in La Mirada, Calif. One popular buffer is the Makita 7" Polisher.
The family-owned Griot's Garage has been producing car care products in the United States since 1990. The company moved to Tacoma, Wash. in 1994, and opened its flagship store in Tacoma in 2010. Its top buffer is the Griot's Garage 6" Dual Action Random Orbital Polisher.
Car Buffer Pricing
- Under $50: You can find a decent car buffer intended for occasional use in this price range. A cheap car buffer is not super powerful and is not recommended for daily and/or heavy use.
- $50-$200: There are a variety of car polishers at this price point. Typically, the more you spend, the more powerful, durable, and versatile the tool will be.
- Over $200: You will pay a bit more for superior quality and performance. The priciest car buffers are geared towards professionals or those who use the tool daily.
Different buffer motors have different amps, revolutions per minute (RPMs), and orbits per minute (OPMs). If you have a vehicle with a decent looking exterior, you won't require a lot of power. But if your vehicle's paint has numerous scratches and swirl marks, or you use it frequently, you will need a stronger buffer to get the job done.
- Ergonomics: It can be hard work to polish your vehicle, so you’ll want a tool that is fairly comfortable to use. The best car buffing machine won’t be too heavy, will have adjustable handles, and it will feature an ergonomic design that makes the tool easier to operate. Variable speed controls, trigger accelerators, and other features will also help make the job less difficult.
- Safety Features: If you're not too familiar with using car polishers and buffers, you’ll want a product that contains some safety features to protect both you and your vehicle's paint. This includes an automatic shutdown option which will cut power from the tool if it gets too hot.
- Maintenance: Even the best car buffers and polishers will require regular upkeep to ensure they're in good operating condition. The best car buffers should require minimal maintenance, even after prolonged use. Check the manufacturer's instructions to determine what you need to do to ensure that it performs optimally.
Best Car Buffer Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher
This random orbital buffer produces swirl-free sanding and polishing results. The AC device has a 4.5 amp motor and includes an electronic variable speed trigger from 2,500-6,800 OPM. It has a proprietary counter balance for use with a 6-inch sanding/polishing pad and accepts 5/16—24 spindle thread accessories. The two-position, removable side handle fosters greater comfort and control.
This beginner-friendly polisher is comfortable, durable, and easy to use. It doesn't leave swirl marks on your paint and creates a quick and perfect finish. You can get into smaller and harder-to-reach areas, such as under the mirror or hood because it does not have a long tail end. The tool also comes with enough lubrication that's intended to last the lifetime of the device under normal use.
It may be tricky to control the Porter-Cable 7424XP polisher at low speeds, it has a strong vibration, and it's loud. Also, the pad that comes with it is low-quality foam, so you will need to buy a Velcro-backing plate of your choice. In addition, over time it may not operate fully on all variable speeds.
Best Value: Black+Decker Variable Speed Polisher
This random orbital polisher achieves 4,400 orbits per minute to ensure a swirl-free finish. It has a two-handle design for comfort and a 10-foot power cord to accommodate cars and boats. It weighs 5.3 pounds and comes with a 6-inch random orbit waxer and polisher, one foam applicator bonnet, and two polishing bonnets.
It is lightweight, not very loud, and you can easily use it with one hand. It makes polishing, buffing, and waxing easier and faster. It also removes water spots and brings the paint back to life with ease. In addition, it has a nice, ergonomic design that enables you to use it in hard-to-reach places. It's ideal for the average user who doesn't need the tool for professional daily use.
One downside is the Black+Decker WP900 polisher is not super powerful, and it may stop spinning if you put too much pressure on it. The pads that come with the device are not high quality. Foam pads work best, but they are hard to find. Also, the foam backer pad may eventually come unglued.
Honorable Mention: DeWALT 7-Inch/9-Inch Variable Speed Polisher
This polisher has a 12-amp motor and ball-bearing construction for long life and performance. The adjustable speed dial lets you set the maximum speed from zero to 600/3500 RPM for different materials and applications. The spindle thread is 5/8-inch-11, and the electronic module maintains a constant speed. The wool Ingestion shields increase tool life and reduce service costs, while the rubber gear case cover reduces surface imperfections and improves grip.
It's comfortable, powerful, high quality, durable, and easy to use. It has a soft start feature and stays at the RPM, regardless of load. The speed settings are also precise; you can press slightly on the trigger and gradually increase the speed for slow ramp up. The speed is very consistent, and it doesn't bog down when you put pressure on it. It's ideal if you need a machine that can put in serious work.
The DeWALT DWP849X polisher may burn paint if not used correctly, and it’s a little heavy. Also, it may be difficult to find a 9-inch backing plate. In addition, it may not last very long if it's used daily in a professional setting, and the switch may burn out.
- Before using a car paint buffer, make sure the vehicle's paint is free of dirt and contaminants. Also, work in a well-lit area so you're able to see all the blemishes you want to remove.
- To get the best results when using a handheld car buffer, avoid dry polishing, using the edge of the buffing pad, or pushing against the natural spinning motion of the rotating pad.
- If your auto wax buffer does not feature a safe start mode, apply polish or wax to the pad first and spread it around before you turn the tool on.
- Most people will only require one polisher, while some professionals will use several polishers for specific jobs. If you require a buffer for basic paint polishing, use a random orbital.
- Do not use more than one compound on a single buffing pad. You don't want to mix wax and polish, for example. Each compound should be kept separate to avoid contamination.
- Minimize swirl marks by keeping your buffing pads clean. Spur wool pads frequently, and occasionally wash and air dries them. Soak foam pads in warm water and let them air dry.
- Lower RPMs result in less friction and subsequently less heat buildup. When compounding, stay between 1750 and 2400 RPM. When finishing, stay between 1200 and 1750 RPM. Also, use the right compound or polish with the right buffing pad.
Q: Is it better to use a car buffer or to polish my vehicle by hand?
A: While polishing a car by hand prevents swirl marks, it's nearly impossible to maintain pressure and speed consistency and remove stubborn particles. Power tools, such as car buffers, enable you to polish your vehicle effectively and efficiently.
Q: Is it okay to polish car windows?
A: Yes. You can remove some light scratches and water spots. After you polish the window, use a thin coat of wax to create the effect of Rain-X, which causes water to bead.
Q: What’s the best car buffer for beginners?
A: With today's modern technology and equipment, it's hard for even a beginner detailer to make a mistake with an orbital buffer. The best car buffing kit is designed for people of all abilities, so even entry-level auto detailers can do the job safely. Rotary buffers are intended for professionals.
Our pick for the best car buffer is the PORTER-CABLE Variable Speed Polisher. It’s great for beginners, is easy to use, and features an electronic variable-speed dial with a range of 2,500—6,800 OPM. In addition, the two-position, removable side handle fosters greater comfort and control.
For a less expensive option, consider the Black+Decker Variable Speed Polisher.