LAST UPDATED: November 16, 2020
The Best Dual-Action Polishers (Review & Buying Guide) 2020
Restore the showroom look of your vehicle with a dual action polisher
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PUBLISHED ON November 16, 2020
Does the thought of subjecting your car to an automatic car wash send shivers up your spine? Do you cringe every time you walk out and find bird droppings on your car? Do you get upset when there's rain in the forecast? If so, you’re probably a devout follower of the two-bucket method of car washing. You also need a dual-action polisher.
When elbow grease and microfiber cloths no longer reach your standard for car care, these power tools can up your game and provide deep color and a mirror shine that will make your vehicle look like new again. There are multiple styles and price ranges to choose from when it comes to the best dual action polishers, so which one is right for you?
This is a corded buffer and polisher combo designed with an ergonomically shaped handle that allows the user to work comfortably.
- Allows the user to control and maintain a specific speed
- Can be used on different types of materials
- Designed to offer years of reliable service
- Backed with a three-year limited warranty
- A bit heavy
- There’s a learning curve to controlling the speed
This is a 120-volt waxer and polisher with an ergonomically shaped body, which conforms to your hand for fatigue-free polishing.
- Affordable and easy to use
- Smoothens out the surface, and removes dirt and grime
- Vibrates to avoid damaging paint finishes
- Works on all surfaces, including kitchen walls
- Vibrations can strain your hand during lengthy detailing
- Only one speed setting
This is a corded, random orbital tool with two handles that help provide a quick, uniform finish when waxing, buffing, or polishing.
- Decently priced
- Effectively removes stains, swirl marks, and scratches
- Two handles provide a secure grip and reduce fatigue
- Ideal for both small and large projects
- Dual handles make the unit bulky
- Awkwardly positioned power switch
- Doesn’t operate at variable speeds
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Benefits of Dual-Action Polishers
- Remove minor scratches and swirls. A dual-action polisher can be used to buff out minor scratches and swirls to improve the appearance of your vehicle. It will also make the paintwork look more lustrous.
- Safe for paintwork. When pressed down on a surface, a dual-action polisher stops spinning and starts to vibrate. The vibration helps to dissipate heat so that the paintwork doesn’t get damaged. This is a safety mechanism that sets it apart from other car polishers and lets beginners know that they need to move to another spot or slightly lift the polisher.
- User-friendly. Most dual-action polishers have a simple design that’s user-friendly for both DIYers and professionals. You only need to use the right buffing pad, power the device, adjust the speed, and guide it on the surface while keeping a firm hold on the handle.
Types of Polishers
Dual-action, or otherwise known as a random orbital polisher, is a motor-driven machine that oscillates and rotates to create a double-action when polishing, sanding, waxing, or adding paint to a surface. It’s designed to mimic the circular hand motion you make when polishing a surface. It’s easy and safe to use since it’s designed to vibrate to keep heat from penetrating and damaging the paintwork.
Rotary polishers only have a single polishing/buffing head that rotates on the surface to perform deep paint correction. Since the polishing head is continuously attached to the surface, heat builds up, making it possible to buff out or refill deep paint scratches. They are best used by professional detailers who know how to control the machine to avoid further damage.
Black+Decker is a multinational manufacturer of power tools, home improvement products, small appliances, batteries, and more. It was founded by Alonzo G. Decker in 1910 and is headquartered in Baltimore. If you need a dual action polisher for a professional setting, check out the Black+Decker 6-inch Random Orbit Waxer/Polisher.
Makita is a global manufacturer of premium quality power tools featuring the latest, leading-edge technology. It’s headquartered in La Mirada, Calif., and has numerous distribution centers throughout the U.S. If you want to try out some of its best dual action polishers, consider the Dual Action Random Orbit Polisher.
WEN manufactures a wide range of power tools, power generators, and woodworking tools. It was founded in 1961 by Nick Anton and headquartered in Elgin, Ill. Throughout the years, it has gained popularity for making affordable tools that can be used by homeowners, hobbyists, and professionals. The WEN 6010 6-Inch Waxer/Polisher is proof of that.
As a subsidiary brand of 3M, Meguiar's has grown to be one of the best manufacturers of car care and detailing products. It was founded by Frank Meguiar and is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. The company has been around since 1901, and one of the best power tools in its repertoire is Meguiar’s Dual Action Polisher.
Dual-Action Polisher Pricing
- Under $150: Power tools within this price range are best used for home maintenance projects. Professionals may find them a bit underpowered since most have a low RPM rating. Also, most come with a small buffing pad that’s less than 6 inches, meaning that it may take longer to work on several vehicles.
- $150 and up: Professional detailers should look for dual-action polishers within this price point — they have a higher speed rating and can handle heavy-duty detailing tasks. However, ensure that you aren’t just paying for a brand name and that the reviews match the tool's price.
A power tool’s motor speed is rated in revolutions per minute (RPM) or orbits per minute (OPM). The motor speed helps determine the detailing projects you can take on. For instance, a power tool that’s rated above 3,000 RPM can handle heavy-duty projects such as buffing out deep scratches on the bodywork. Ideally, you should choose a tool with variable speed settings you can adjust depending on the task at hand.
Since you will be using the polisher for lengthy periods, it’s important that it feels comfortable in your hands. For this reason, choose a unit with an ergonomically shaped body that contours to the shape of your hand. As a bonus, it should come with an extra side handle or D-handle that helps reduce hand fatigue.
All detailing power tools should come with several safety features that keep the machine from going out of control. If not, it may end up damaging your paintwork. Therefore, prioritize tools with an automatic shutdown that kicks in when the tool is used incorrectly or a speed lock feature that keeps the motor from increasing or decreasing the speed.
- Vibration. Dual-action polishers typically vibrate as part of the buffing process. However, you don’t want a polisher that vibrates since it can strain your hand and lead to inaccurate finishes. Before buying a polisher, check the user reviews to see if excessive vibration is a big issue with the machine.
- Corded vs. Cordless. Most random orbital polishers on the market have a corded design and need to be constantly plugged in to work. However, you may want more freedom to move around without cables tagging behind as you work. In that case, you can go for a cordless design that runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
Best Dual-Action Polisher Reviews & Recommendations 2020
If you are looking for a well-designed polisher that’s comfortable to use, we recommend DeWalt’s buffer-polisher combo. It’s driven with a powerful 12-amp motor that starts soft and gradually builds power so that you can better control it.
It also has an ergonomically shaped body that offers a comfortable grip and features a three-position bale handle as well as a side handle. The onboard variable speed dial allows the user to adjust the speed from zero to 600/3,500 RPM, and a ball bearing construction ensures that it can effortlessly handle demanding applications. Also, it can maintain the loaded speed level for better finish results.
It’s not ideal for beginners since there’s a learning curve to controlling the speed. However, most professionals can get it going once they power it on.
If you want to get your car looking its best without breaking the bank, check out the WEN 6010 6-Inch Waxer/Polisher. The fixed-speed electric motor spins at a rate of 4,000 orbits per minute, which is great for all-purpose use, though care should be taken to prevent overworking painted surfaces.
The compact design is easy to operate with just one hand. The six-inch backing plate is intended for use with any similarly-sized elastic bonnets, and two are included. The applicator bonnet spreads polishing compounds or waxes evenly and thoroughly. The terry cloth bonnet wipes surfaces clean for a bright finish that’s far better than what you would likely get by hand.
While some alternatives on this list offer more power and versatile features, this polisher is a great choice if affordability is your top priority.
Get good value for your money by choosing the Avid Power Polisher. This competitively-priced option offers a wide range of speeds. A six-position dial lets you select motor speeds from 1,500 orbits per minute to 6,800 orbits per minute. You can use the lowest speeds available for cleaning and polishing or speed things up to apply the finishing touches to your detailing.
It may feel heavy, but the auxiliary handle can be adjusted to provide a comfortable handhold as you work. The 6-inch backing plate is designed for use with 7-inch pads.
Three pads are included with this polisher: one for removing swirls and blemishes, one for removing scratches, and one for finishing the surface. Additional pads can be purchased as a set, so you always have the tools you need.
If you’re looking for a powerful dual-action polisher that is easy to maneuver, you might like the BLACK+DECKER 6-inch Random Orbit Waxer/Polisher. The single-speed motor operates at 4,400 orbits per minute for a bright, crisp shine.
Two handles make this compact unit easy to control, especially on curved surfaces and sharp edges. The 6-inch disc is designed for use with removable bonnets rather than stick-on pads. One foam applicator bonnet and two polishing bonnets are included with the purchase of this tool. You’ll have everything you need to get right to work polishing, waxing, and buffing with your favorite car care products.
This option is also backed by a two-year warranty. Because of the high speed of this motor and fixed speed setting, this should be used with care. Improper use can damage paint more quickly than less powerful alternatives.
For waxing and polishing painted surfaces, you can use Meguiar’s Dual Action Polisher. It has a lightweight body weighing only 5.4 pounds, and the weight is well-distributed throughout the tool so that it can feel well-balanced on your hands. It also features a multi-position D-handle for comfort and enhanced control.
The unit can operate from 3,000 to 7,500 orbits per minute, and a thumb adjustable speed dial lets you adjust the speed to suit the application. Digital Torque Management electronically maintains the selected speed level for accurate detailing. Though the unit vibrates excessively, a cleverly positioned soft start button provides soft starts so that you can better handle the speed and vibrations as they pick up.
Get a show-ready shine with the Griot's Garage Dual Action Random Orbital Polisher. This high-end electric buffer and polisher uses a variable-speed motor to provide a delicate touch or glossy finish.
Speeds range from 3,500 oscillations per minute to 10,000 oscillations per minute, making it the most powerful option on this list by a wide margin. The random orbital head creates irregular patterns for a swirl-free shine that prevents damage. Compatible three-inch and four-inch pads can be purchased separately. Pair this polisher with six different pad compounds that are specifically designed to clean, polish, wax, and remove water spots.
The compact size of this option makes it more time consuming to use, but it also provides more precision in hard-to-reach areas. A lifetime warranty is included.
Makita's Polisher provides an easy way of removing minor scratches, swirl marks, and restoring the lustrous shine of your vehicle or boat's paintwork. It's rated at 120 volts so that it won't reflect on your electricity bill. Also, it's driven by a 10-amp motor that delivers 600 to 3,000 rotations per minute, so that you can use it for light polishing or heavy-duty sanding. The onboard variable speed dial lets you adjust the motor speed to suit different applications.
To ensure that the polisher doesn't vibrate uncontrollably, you can press the soft start button for a smooth start before you increase the speed. When you need to make a perfect finish, you only need to press the lock-on button to maintain a constant speed. It's somewhat heavy, but you will appreciate how effortlessly you can switch from polishing to sanding.
Featuring Italian design and craftsmanship, Rupes Random Orbital Polisher is an easy-to-use polisher best used for paint correction. It’s driven by a 500-watt motor and operates rather quietly despite the powerful motor. Having such a powerful motor means that it can be used in a professional setting to remove heavy paint defects. Also, a variable speed control lets the user adjust the speed, and you can choose between six different settings to handle various applications.
For better control of the polisher, it comes with a soft start button that also helps avoid detailing accidents. More safety features include an anti-spinning feature that prevents high-speed rotations to create swirl-free finishes. Also, it uses a 6-inch Chemical Guys polishing pad to polish any painted surface. It’s a bit expensive, but it can fit into tight spaces, making it worth the extra cash.
If you are looking for a waxer, grinder, and buffer from one power tool, then the Goplus Dual Action Polisher Kit could work for you. The kit comes with a car polisher, removable side handle, a sponge pad, and a chuck key. It features a 950-watt motor and six variable speed settings, ranging from 2,000 to 4,800 rotations per minute. You can maintain a steady speed by pressing the safety-lock switch, which locks the machine at one speed setting so that you don’t have to keep your finger on the speed dial.
The unit has an ergonomic design that reduces hand fatigue. It can be held at three different positions: main handle, side handle, and D-shape handle. It’s also lightweight and made of durable nylon and TPR material. However, the unit tends to overheat but will be back to running smoothly once you give it a few minutes to cool.
Porter-Cable offers a random orbital sander and polisher that strikes the perfect balance between comfort and usability. It features a 4.5-amp motor, a 6-inch polishing pad, and weighs only 5.5 pounds for fatigue-free operation. The electronic variable speed dial lets you adjust the motor power from 2,500 to 6,800 OPM to handle different applications. The motor is quite noisy, but it can maintain a constant speed for you to work comfortably.
Porter-Cable includes a removable, two-position side handle that helps you achieve better control for accurate detailing. It can be attached at either the left or right side for a better working angle. It’s also compatible with 5/16 - 24 spindle thread accessories, thereby increasing your options when it comes to the tools you can use for sanding or polishing.
- Test the polisher on a different surface before using it on your vehicle. This way, you can determine if it's safe for your paintwork, and you can also learn how to control the speed.
- Polish your vehicle by dividing it into sections. Use old newspapers to cover the sections that are unpolished and strip them off them as you go. This will get a more even coat without unpolished sections.
- Be sure to work in a well-lit room so that you can see the results of your work. It will also be easier to avoid damaging the buffing pad on your vehicle's sharp edges or trims.
- The easiest way to tell if you can remove the scratch yourself is by running your fingernail on the scratch. If it gets caught on the scratch, it means that the scratch is too deep and you will have a hard time removing it. In that case, you should consider asking for a professional's help.
Q: What is a dual-action polisher?
A dual-action polisher is a power tool that's used to smoothen out your vehicle's bodywork and for applying wax. It combines a circular and spinning action, which creates a double or dual action. It also vibrates while it spins so that it doesn’t burn through the paint.
Q: What is the best dual-action polisher?
Though we picked the Dewalt Buffer/Polisher as the best overall dual action polisher, finding the best polisher is subjective depending on the functions you are looking for. You may prefer a waxer/polisher combo over a sander-polisher. Therefore, any of the polishers on our review could be the best for you.
Q: Can a dual-action polisher remove scratches?
Yes, it can. The repetitive spinning action can help smoothen out minor scratches and fill it with automotive wax and paint. However, it doesn’t produce enough heat to remove deep scratches on the paintwork.
Admittedly, the Dewalt Buffer/Polisher is the best dual-action polisher because it’s easy to use, energy-efficient, and versatile enough to offer a wide range of speed settings to accommodate different detailing projects. If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, consider the WEN Waxer/Polisher.