LAST UPDATED: April 8, 2020
Best Car Buffers/Polishers: Shine Your Car to Polished Perfection
These handy tools will keep your car looking brand new without any frustrating slip-ups
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON April 8, 2020
That coveted showroom shine has always been a car owner’s dream, but perfection almost always comes at the expense of sore arms and hours of time and energy. Sure, the “no pain, no gain” mindset has some satisfaction to it, but wouldn’t you rather bring back your car’s original shine without sacrificing every last ounce of strength you have?
The best car buffers/polishers get the job done with considerably less energy, so you can more easily restore your car’s former glory. Check out our buying guide for the best car buffers below.
The lightweight DEWALT buffer features variable speed control, a non-marring rubber gear case, and a handy grip for easy maneuvering.
Wool Ingestion Shields can prolong the lifespan of the buffer, along with a 12-amp motor that can handle changes in pressure.
The machine gets hot after prolonged usage, and the variable speed control wheel may short. It’s also a bit larger than a few other models in its range.
This buffer/polisher can deliver 600 watts of power and a no load speed of 1,500 to 6,800 OPM to get your car sparkling and shining once again.
Variable speed control with six different settings lets you choose the right speed for your work. A detachable D-handle gives you a comfortable grip.
Noise while the machine runs can be unpleasant. May need to purchase additional pads, depending on your needs and vehicle condition.
Lightweight and easy to hold in your hands, this car polisher gives you control and ease of use. Its variable speed dial, two-position handle, and ability to work with different accessories makes it a versatile, helpful tool.
Can choose your speed with a dial to deliver 2,500 to 6,800 OPM. Lightweight at just 5.5 pounds.
Can be challenging to control at low speeds. Included pads aren’t high-quality.
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Benefits of Car Buffers/Polishers
- Quality results. Your car’s luster and shine will inevitably fade as time goes by, but you can revive its color and wow factor with a good wax or polish. Buffing with a random orbital polisher or variable speed polisher will produce better and faster results than by hand. You can’t possibly cover every single imperfection on your car by waxing and sanding by hand, so investing in the best car buffer makes sense.
- Time efficiency. Waxing and sanding based on your machine’s RPM is undoubtedly faster than doing so by hand. Scratches on the surface, random debris and deposits, and swirl marks can be handled much quicker with an orbital buffer than a regular polishing pad or foam pad. You can even adjust the speed settings to suit your preference.
- Safety. The speed control of rotary buffers or rotary polishers ensure that you don’t remove your car paint completely. There are safety settings you can adjust during polishing as well as exchangeable wool pads you can choose from.
Types of Car Buffers/Polishers
Professional detailers normally prefer this type of polishing machine due to its powerful motor and precision. You can easily remove blemishes with the direct-drive system for a high-gloss finish. The aggressive output isn’t as suitable for car buffing newbies as there’s a tendency for a beginner to accidentally damage the car paint while car polishing.
For at-home detailing, an orbital buffer is the safest choice. Its ease of use is a huge plus for non-pros with lower power outputs than rotary polishers. A random oscillating buffer can be a safer option compared to standard orbital buffers, although they might not produce the most flawless finish. They’re both very user-friendly, so it’s hard for a detailer to slip up with this type of car polisher.
The motor and drive for this type of car polisher will oscillate in circular motions randomly. With this set up you won’t accidentally apply too much pressure in a single spot over and over again. This makes it the safest choice for beginners as they’re also more lightweight and easier to maneuver.
One of the top manufacturers of high-quality power tools in the world, DEWALT launched in 1924. Today, the company is “Guaranteed Tough” and a leading provider of professional workhorse solutions all over the world. The DEWALT Buffer/Polisher DWP849X is the perfect example of that reliable quality.
WEN has been making a name for itself in the business since it was founded by Nick Anton in 1951. This company not only takes pride in its quality car waxers, but also in its chainsaws, soldering guns, electric jigsaws, and engravers. The WEN 6010 6-Inch Waxer/Polisher is the perfect balance between affordability and usability.
From the company of passionate car enthusiasts comes the Griot's Garage 10813STDCRD 6" Dual Orbital Polisher. You can expect only the highest standards of excellence from the family that’s been providing unfailing car care solutions since 1990.
This company makes sure that “every ride matters” with its passionate team of enthusiasts who value car care above all else. From solvents to wheel cleaners, its wide range of products has been keeping cars looking their best since 1962, and the Meguiar's MT300 Dual Action Variable Speed Polisher is proof of just that.
Car Buffers Polishers Pricing
- Under $100: Just like our value pick, car buffers within this price range get the job done. However, don’t expect long-term or heavy-duty quality in this cheaper price range.
- $100-$200: This price point hits the sweet spot between quality and value, with powerful motors and added features included on the pricier models. The most expensive ones are often used by professional detailers who use them on a day-to-day basis.
Plenty of models have a nifty feature that lets you switch out different wool pads and applicators, depending on your car’s specific needs. Variable speed control is also crucial as it protects your motor from overheating. Some models have 500 RPM increments. Remember that the highest speed doesn’t always produce the best results—you need to adjust the speed for precision based on the blemishes you want to repair.
You can check the performance of your buffer or car polisher via Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) or Orbits Per Minute (OPM). You can get rid of the deepest scratches with high-speed machines, but these will also have a steeper learning curve and won’t be as easy to handle. You can commonly find speeds that range from 2000-5000 RPM.
Opt for minimal vibration when choosing the best car buffer for your vehicle. Car polishers that vibrate a lot during buffing will be more difficult and more uncomfortable to use. Plus, vibrations can generate inaccurate finishes if you’re not careful. Make sure your machine is light enough for optimum maneuverability as well.
You don’t want your buffer to damage your car, and you don’t want it to cause you any minor injuries either. If you’re not a professional detailer, chances are you’ll encounter a snafu or two. A buffer with automatic motor shut-down options and safety measures for overheating will keep both you and your car safe from any waxing and sanding mishaps.
- Good Grip: Some buffers have dual handles so that you can easily move them around when needed. Make sure that your car buffer/polisher has a good hand grip or a side handle to avoid making costly mistakes during car polishing. High-speed power tools can be a challenge to control, even for a professional detailer.
- Affordability: Just because something has a lower price tag doesn’t mean you should immediately buy it. Depending on your usage and on the type of blemish you want to remove, you should think about investing in higher-priced models for your car. But it's not necessarily a good idea to choose the most expensive brand. Stick to ones with good reviews.
- Appearance and Maintenance: As for corded vs. cordless, battery-powered car polishers let you work remotely without any pesky cords messing up your jam. You should also consider looking for a model that’s easily maintained to keep it in tip-top condition. Instructions for optimum performance should be included in the manufacturer’s guide.
Best Car Buffers/Polishers Reviews & Recommendations 2020
With stunning detail and impressive power, the DEWALT Buffer/Polisher DWP849X combines both form and function in one package. That perfect polish isn’t hard to accomplish as this product features a soft start with variable speed control. You can adjust the speed from 600 rotations per minute to 3500 rotations per minute. It also has a handy grip, so maneuvering it is a breeze. Plus, it’s lightweight at just 6.7 pounds.
What we love about this car polisher is the added Wool Ingestion Shields that keep your wool pads safe, effectively reducing any maintenance issues you might have and prolonging the buffer’s lifespan. The hook-and-loop backing pad is a godsend, as you can easily change accessories tool-free.
We’re not big fans of the way it gets a tad too hot after just a few hours of use. The variable speed control wheel has a tendency of shorting, and you have to be very careful with handling it to avoid messing up your paint job.
If you want to buff and polish your car on a budget, the Avid Power Polisher is an excellent product. Featuring a powerful motor with six different speeds that you can control from a dial, this random orbital car buffer and polisher can remove swirls, scratches, and other defects from your vehicle’s surface. It’ll restore a sleek shine too.
You can set this tool on low speed for waxing and buffing, medium for polishing and cleaning, or high for removing oxidation and other defects. The car buffer and polisher is made with a rubberized body and adjustable handle, which offer a comfortable ergonomic design that gives you control and stability while you work.
Along with the polisher/buffer, you also get three foam pads, a detachable D-handle, a spanner, and a hex wrench.
The Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher might be compact and lightweight, but it’s powerful and effective when it comes to polishing and buffing vehicle exteriors. The tool weighs just 5.5 pounds and features a 4.5-amp motor, uses a 6-inch polishing pad, and measures 11.5 x 10.5 x 6 inches in size.
This random orbital swirl-free car buffer and polisher features an electronic variable speed dial that lets you choose your power — it delivers a range of 2,500 to 6,800 OPM. A two-position removable side handle helps you achieve better comfort and easier control while you work.
It’ll attach to any 5/16 - 24 spindle thread accessories, so you can choose your favorite polishing and buffing items to use with this tool. You can even use this car buffer/polisher for sanding jobs, as it’ll work with a 6-inch sanding or polishing pad.
- For the best results, clean the surface of the area you want to work on before you apply the wax.
- To avoid damaging the paint job, do not use the same buffing pads for different rubbing compounds. Avoid dry polishing. Wash your wool pads and air-dry them after every use.
- When you’re working, don’t move against the natural motion of the machine.
- Work with the right RPM for the job. Lower rotations have lower heat energy consumption. For compounding, go for a good range between 1700–2400. You can replace your pad and settle between 1200–1700 for the final wax.
- To keep your wax from drying up too quickly, do not work under the harsh glare of the sun. Don’t work under a tree if you don’t want random twigs or droppings to ruin your hard work.
Q: Can I use a buffer for my car windows?
A: Yes. Make sure that you wash your windows first before lightly buffing them with wax
Q: Should I use car wax or car polish?
A: Car wax can make your car shine, while car polish helps remove blemishes or scratches from your paint job. You can use both with your buffer.
Q: Will a car polisher ruin my car paint?
A: Read the instructions so you know how to use your machine properly. A good quality model should be easy to use without the risk of damaging your paint job.
The DEWALT Buffer/Polisher DWP849X is our top pick, and features Wool Ingestion Shields, a powerful motor, and variable speed control to ace all kinds of buffing and polishing tasks. You can rely on the company’s solid experience in the business, and it has a balanced price to boot.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher.