LAST UPDATED: June 11, 2019
Best Car Buffers: Top Polishers For A Detailed Look
The top car buffers that will give your car a fresh new look
The Review Team
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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.
Why Trust Us
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 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 2020
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.
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. But 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.
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.
Another buffer from trustworthy brand DeWalt, this variable-speed polisher comes at a premium price, but we think you’ll find the money worth spending. With cordless power and the option to bundle a rechargeable battery, the DeWalt variable polisher can go anywhere, and can even do emergency bodywork by the side of the road.
You can vary the speed using both a dial and the trigger, which allows for an extremely fine level of control. The brushless motor can handle a lot of use. We also love how the rotor starts slow, which begins to buff in the compound without flinging it everywhere.
There is a trade-off for all that power. Aside from the price — which is even higher if you bundle the battery — this buffer is heavy and can be hard for beginners to control. It is, in general, just a little too much product for smaller jobs.
This buffer from Chemical Guys is also pretty expensive, but this time, you get more with your purchase: It comes with a complete car repair kit, including backing plates, pads, and bottles of compound and conditioner. You can also bundle it with microfiber towers, or if you want, just get the polisher itself.
The kit is great, but the polisher works amazingly well on its own, making it easy even for body work newbies to hide relatively deep scratches. If you’re willing to put the work in, this kit can remove oxidation, reverse aging on a paint job, and increase the shine until it looks like new. We tested it on leather and fiberglass and got equally good results.
The only things we don’t like about the TORQ 10FX are the construction and some of the paired extras. Specifically, the on/off switch is surprisingly flimsy, and one of the pads fell apart without much use. We recommend getting the polisher and adding your own favorite pads, backing plates, and compound.
Swinging to the other end of the price spectrum, we have the I-4510 buffer and polisher from Pro-LifT, which is the perfect lightweight unit for small DIY jobs. It runs on corded power, meaning this isn’t a buffer that can live in your car, but it’s powerful for such a small, cheap product. It’s able to reach up to 3200 RPM unloaded.
That speed means that if you pair it with a good compound, the I-4510 can get your car to just as brilliant a shine as some of its more expensive competitors. The two-handled grip makes it a cinch for beginners to control. We’ve even seen reports of people using it as a massager to loosen up their muscles.
We don’t want to mince words, though: This is a cheaper polisher in every sense, and it’s prone to breaking down after several months of regular use. It also doesn’t stand up very well to pressure, so if you have an extremely oxidized surface you need to clear, we advise going for something sturdier.
All right, so the brand name is pretty much impossible to Google, but almost everything else about the VViVid hand polisher and waxer is up to snuff. Its compact motor is capable of six different speeds, from 2500 to 6800 RPM unloaded.
There’s a lot to like about this polisher, starting with its affordable price, and including its variable speeds and comfortable reversible-grip handle. It’s got a good weight balance, light enough for beginners, but heavy enough to handle the pressure of heavier jobs.
Drawbacks are here and there, though. Six speeds is a great range, but the lower two are next to useless. Also, the backing plate seems to be designed for Velcro pads, but the included pad is made of flimsy wool that shreds quickly. This is another one where you’ll want to bring your own pads—you’re still saving money.
Rounding out the list is this cord-powered variable-speed buffer/polisher from Neiko. With a 1300W motor, cast-aluminum head, and six speed settings, it’s a good tool to have living in your garage.
If you’re on a tighter budget but you’re looking at a heavy two-day cleaning job, the Neiko 7-inch polisher is a deft mixture of durable and affordable. This polisher was clearly constructed with user experience in mind. We felt comfortable with the rubber handle and liked how the trigger and trigger release button are both within reach of one hand. The upper handle can be shifted left or right for ambidextrous users. The speed controller is easy to operate as well.
We just wish it wasn’t so heavy: The weight might put off DIY newbies. The long term also creates some problems with this tool. If the switch gives out under heavy use—which it’s likely to at some point—it’s almost always cheaper to just get a new one.
- 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.