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Best Car Buffers/Polishers: Shine Your Car to Polished Perfection

These buffing and polishing picks will make your vehicle look scratch-free and flawless once again.

With decades of combined experience covering the latest news, reviewing the greatest gear, and advising you on your next car purchase, The Drive is the leading authority on all things automotive.

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BYHeather Fishel/ LAST UPDATED ON May 25, 2022

A good, thorough detail is a must-do at least once a year for your car, with a bit of extra TLC needed to restore its gloss and shine, remove the dings and scratches that accumulate over time, and keep that colorful paint looking fresh. But it’s an awful lot of work to do by hand, especially if you’re dedicating hours — and a whole lot of elbow grease — to polishing and buffing your car’s exterior by hand. That’s why every garage can benefit from a car buffer and polisher. These powerful, quick-working tools will take the hard work out of a serious detailing job, putting professional-level results within reach. Available in countless sizes and styles, with a variety of speed choices, feature options, and even power levels, a car buffer and polisher can completely change your detailing game.

Best Overall

DEWALT Buffer/Polisher DWP849X

Summary
The lightweight DEWALT buffer features variable speed control, a non-marring rubber gear case, and a handy grip for easy maneuvering.
Pros
  • Wool Ingestion Shields can prolong the lifespan of the buffer
  • 12-amp motor can handle changes in pressure
Cons
  • Machine gets hot after prolonged usage
  • Variable speed control wheel may short.
  • A bit larger than a few other models in its range
Best Value

Avid Power Polisher

Summary
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.
Pros
  • Variable speed control with six different settings lets you choose the right speed for your work
  • Detachable D-handle gives you a comfortable grip
Cons
  • Noise while the machine runs can be unpleasant
  • May need to purchase additional pads, depending on your needs and vehicle condition
Honorable Mention

Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher

Summary
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.
Pros
  • Can choose your speed with a dial to deliver 2,500 to 6,800 opm
  • Lightweight at just 5.5 pounds
Cons
  • Can be challenging to control at low speeds
  • Included pads aren’t high-quality
Best Car Buffers/Polishers: Shine Your Car to Polished Perfection

Summary List 

Best Budget: Avid Power Polisher

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Our Methodology

I chose the top car buffers and polishers by diving into the many different products and power tools available to shop. I sought out options from well-known brands in both the automotive and power tools, looking for options that were highly rated by users and reputable in their brand histories. Each buffer or polisher was compared to similar models, and those with the best collection of features, efficiency, and power — plus great reliability and performance ratings — are those highlighted below. 

Best Car Buffer and Polisher Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Power Source: Power cord
  • Pad Size: 7 to 9 inches
  • Speed Range: 600 to 3,500 rpm

Pros

  • Durable all-bearing construction
  • Lightweight
  • Doesn’t require much maintenance
  • Soft start and variable speed

Cons

  • Heats up with use
  • Variable speed control can short out

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.

Specs

  • Power Source: Power cord
  • Pad Size: 6 inches
  • Speed Range: 1,500 to 6,800 rpm

Pros

  • Six speed settings
  • Buffs, polishes, and removes defects
  • Ergonomic shape and handles
  • Includes pads and extra accessories

Cons

  • Noisy
  • May need to buy extra pads

If you want to buff and polish your car on a budget, the Avid Power Polisher is an excellent product to pick. 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 even high speed 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’ll receive three foam pads, a detachable D-handle, a spanner, and a hex wrench.

Specs

  • Power Source: Power cord
  • Pad Size: 6 inches
  • Speed Range: 2,500 to 6,800 rpm

Pros

  • Weighs just 5.5 pounds
  • Under 12 inches tall
  • Two-position removable handle
  • Works with an array of spindle thread accessories

Cons

  • May be difficult to control at low speeds
  • Low-quality pads included

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 six-inch polishing pad, and measures 11.5 x 10.5 x 6 inches in total size. This random orbital swirl-free car buffer and polisher features an electronic variable speed dial that lets you choose your power and it delivers a range of 2,500 to 6,800 rpm.

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 six-inch sanding or polishing pad.

Specs

  • Power Source: Rechargeable battery
  • Pad Size: 7 inches
  • Speed Range: 0 to 2,000 rpm

Pros

  • Variable speed dial and trigger
  • Constant Power Technology keeps speed balanced for the load
  • Protective rubber overmolding
  • Includes removable dust cover and pads

Cons

  • May not complete larger cars on a single charge
  • Battery sold separately

If you want a car buffer or polisher that you can use absolutely anywhere, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel Cordless Variable Speed Polisher is it. This convenient and capable power tool runs on a rechargeable battery (specifically, the Milwaukee M18 Fuel battery), freeing you from a power cord and all of the tangling and length restrictions that come with it. Plus, if you have other tools that use the same battery system, you can swap between them for endless power uses. Lightweight in hand and easy to control from any angle, this cord-free buffer and polisher offer a variable speed dial and trigger to put you in charge of your detailing work. Rubber overmold on the housing protects your car from scratches and damage, and the side handle gives you easy leverage. Plus, you’ll be able to complete a full-size car on a single battery charge.

Some users, however, dispute the fact that one full battery charge can cover an entire car; results may vary depending on how big your vehicle is. Overall, though, this is a buffer and polisher that’s well-balanced and convenient to use.

Specs

  • Power Source: Rechargeable battery
  • Pad Size: 10 inches
  • Speed Range: 0 to 2,500 rpm

Pros

  • Larger 10-inch diameter
  • GripZone overmold increases grip and hand comfort
  • One battery charge covers an entire car
  • Cordless power provides flexibility

Cons

  • Battery sold separately
  • Does slow down with added pressure

A car buffer and polisher doesn’t have to be a small tool; with a pick like the Ryobi One+ 18V Cordless 10 in. Orbital Buffer, you’ll be able to cover more ground. This cordless tool runs on a rechargeable battery, one that works within the Ryobi One+ system to power all kinds of tools and provide you with more than enough charge to cover your entire car. It automatically maintains optimal performance, allowing you to set the speed anywhere from 0 to 2,500 rpm. With a 10-inch pad attached, you’ll be able to work efficiently. Plus, thoughtful features like a crescent-shaped handle and GripZone overmold keep you both comfortable and in careful control at any speed.

You’ll want to note, though, that this car buffer and polisher doesn’t come with the rechargeable One+ battery; you’ll have to buy that separately. Additionally, as you apply pressure while you buff or polish, the speed can automatically slow down.

Specs

  • Power Source: Power cord
  • Pad Size: 6 in
  • Speed Range: 0 to 3,800 rpm

Pros

  • Weighs less than three pounds
  • Swirl-free, mirror-like finish
  • Ideal for precision work
  • Easy to maintain control

Cons

  • Does require a power cord and electrical outlet

The Sun Joe Random Compact Orbital Electric Buffer is exactly what you need if you’re hoping to keep your hands comfortable and your detailing tools light in weight. Weighing just 2.9 pounds with a six-inch pad and eight-inch bonnets, this is a device that fits right into the palm of your hand. But with up to 3,800 opm, it’s no slouch. With a 0.7-amp motor, you’ll be able buff and polish your vehicle with ease and total control. A trigger controls the variable speed setting picks, and the ergonomic design ensures your hand stays comfortable while you work. It’s particularly a great choice when you’re performing spot treatments or need touch-ups rather than whole-car coverage.

There’s only one small drawback to this nicely compact and lightweight car buffer and polisher. While it’s perfectly sized to be comfortable and portable, it does run on a power cord. That means it has to be plugged in, and it isn’t truly as freely portable as it may seem at first glance.

Our Verdict

The lightweight DEWALT Buffer/Polisher DWP849X will give you variable speed settings, protective and non-marring rubber housing, and a convenient and comfortable grip to stay in control of your buffing and polishing work. If it’s value you’re looking for, the Avid Power Polisher is a more budget-friendly pick that delivers plenty of bang for your buck, thanks to its great speed range.

Consider Secondhand

When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place I look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money. 

If those options don’t have what you need, your local salvage yard is great for car parts, while swap meets are a great resource you should tap. Just Google either and head on down.  

Secondhand Tips

To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips to finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner. 

  • Since pads get reused repeatedly, look at the quality of the buffing and polishing pads — you may need to replace those before you use a secondhand machine for the first time
  • Check the power situation whether you’re shopping for corded or cordless; you want to make sure you don’t have to replace a chewed-up cord or buy a separate new battery 

Things to Consider Before Buying Car Buffers and Polishers

Types of Car Buffers and Polishers

Rotary 

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.

Orbital

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.

Dual Action

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.

Car Buffer/Polisher Pricing 

You can equip yourself with a decent car buffer and polisher even on a tight budget. Small six- to 10-inch buffers are available at prices from $20 to $50, though they may not be the most feature-filled or customizable. For $55 to $125, you’ll find larger buffer/polisher options as well as machines with more features and customizable modes or settings. If you’re looking for more power, more options, and more capability, you can find premium buffers and polishers priced from $130 to $275.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: What is the difference between a car buffer and a car polisher?

A: Polishers and buffers are the same tool, but with different levels of abrasiveness. Both polishing and buffing a car are actions that remove imperfections, like small scratches, to achieve a flawless, shining finish on your exterior paint. Polishing, however, typically involves a more abrasive pad than buffing. You’ll also apply different detailing compounds during the process (like a glossy polish for polishing and a waxy compound for buffing).

Q: What kinds of scratches can be buffed out?

A: If your scratches haven’t penetrated your car’s clear coat, then you should be able to buff them out of sight. If you have deeper scratches, you can enlist your buffer/polisher’s help, but you’ll also need to apply touch-up paint. 

Q: Can I buff my car by hand?

A: You can totally use good ol’ elbow grease to buff and polish your vehicle. But this will take more time and effort, which is why a buffer and polisher is a speedier, more efficient choice. Plus, if you buff and polish slowly with care, your power tool can do just as fantastic of a job as you would by hand (with considerably less physical fatigue).

Q: Does a polishing machine remove the clear coat?

A: Technically, any time you polish, you’re removing a bit of your existing clear coat. After all, polishing is done with a slightly abrasive polish formula. However, how much you’re removing, and whether you need to restore your clear coat, really depends on how abrasive you’re getting, how frequently you’re polishing, and how deep the defects (like scratches) are you’re trying to eliminate. 

Q: How often should you buff your car?

A: On average, buffing once or twice a year is sufficient to keep your car well-maintained. However, if you’re hard on your vehicle, or you tend to get more swirls, scratches, and other light damage, you may need to polish a little more frequently.

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