Reviews | The Drive

Best Orbital Polishers to Restore Your Ride to Showroom Shine

These top-quality orbital polishers will remove tough water marks and swirls, leaving your car’s paint looking as good as the day you rolled off the lot.

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BY/ LAST UPDATED ON May 10, 2022

You take pride in washing and polishing your car’s paint, but no matter how much you buff and wax, you can’t seem to get rid of those pesky swirls and hard watermarks. By the time you’re done working, your arm is tired, your shoulder is sore, and your back aches. There’s an easier and better way to polish your car, and it involves the use of tools.


An orbital polisher can help you achieve a beautiful finish that’s free of marks and blemishes. These aren’t your traditional polishers that just spin in place—the orbital movement makes for an easier user experience and reduces the risk of damage to your paint. This guide will explain the best orbital polisher options on the market and how to choose the best one for your needs.


If you’re a die-hard DIY car detailer, you’re probably well acquainted with the benefits of having your own orbital polisher. For those who are new to washing and waxing your own ride, a reliable orbital polisher can be a game changer when it comes to buffing and polishing. 


From basic to advanced, budget friendly to top dollar, there’s an orbital polisher that can do just about any job you need to restore your vehicle’s paint to a pristine shine that’s free of annoying swirl marks, scuffs, and water stains. Not only will an orbital polisher save you time over hand waxing, it will give your back, shoulders, and arms much needed relief. I’ve got you covered with my top picks and a handy buying guide to answer your most burning questions.

Best Overall

Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher

Summary
This random orbital polisher is user friendly and perfect for the beginner.
Pros
  • Removable handle
  • Three-year warranty
  • Great for beginners
Cons
  • Takes time to get comfortable using it
  • Included foam pad insubstantial
Best Value

Black and Decker Random Orbit Waxer/Polisher

Summary
This six-inch orbital polisher operates at 4,400 orbits per minute and features a unique two-handle design that makes it easier to control.
Pros
  • Comfortably large handles
  • Super affordable
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Flimsy foam bonnet
  • No variable speeds
Honorable Mention

SPTA Buffer Polisher

Summary
This random orbital polisher has six variable speeds that range from 2,000 to 5,500 RPM that comes as a complete ready-to-go kit.
Pros
  • Two sized pad backing plates 
  • Wool and foam pads included 
  • All-inclusive kit
Cons
  • Motor gets hot 
  • Vibration through handle
Best Orbital Polishers to Restore Your Ride to Showroom Shine

Our Methodology

When it comes to choosing the best orbital polishers, I wanted to provide you with a well-rounded list that features a good variety of reputable manufacturers with solid track records of providing high-quality, reliable products. I included a wide range of prices to suit any budget. I focused on orbital polishers that use the latest technology and that feature innovative designs suitable for a wide variety of users. For more information on the selection criteria, check out The Drive’s Gear About page, which explains our methodology further.

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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Best Orbital Polisher Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Brand: Porter-Cable
  • Type: Random Orbit
  • Weight: 5.75 pounds

Pros

  • Removable handle
  • Three-year warranty
  • Great for beginners

Cons

  • May take time to get comfortable using it
  • Included foam pad insubstantial

This random orbital polisher is user friendly and perfect for the beginner. Included is a six-inch pad, which makes it ideal for working quickly. The motor is 4.5 amps and is capable of moving at 2,500 to 6,800 orbits per minute (opm). What makes this polisher stand out is that the handle is removable so that you can position it on the right or left side, letting you customize the polisher to your comfort.

One drawback of this polisher is that it doesn’t indicate the opm when adjusting the speed, leaving you guessing the exact level. You may also find it hard to cold start it at first. It can take some practice to get comfortable with it. The included foam pad also loses some love when it comes to durability and ease of switching.

Specs

  • Brand: Black and Decker
  • Type: Random Orbit
  • Weight: 5.3 pounds

Pros

  • Comfortably large handles
  • Super affordable
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Flimsy foam bonnet
  • No variable speeds

This six-inch orbital polisher operates at 4,400 orbits per minute. The 10-foot cord makes it easier to work with and maneuver. The two-handle design makes it easier to control; the handles are cushioned and comfortable to hold for the entire polishing job. The polisher only weighs 5.3 pounds, making it lightweight to reduce arm fatigue. Included with your polisher are one foam applicator pad and two polishing bonnets. You can use this polisher to apply wax, buff, and polish your vehicle’s paint.

Unfortunately, the included foam bonnet isn’t the most durable, which can result in it tearing during use. Most car enthusiasts buy pads anyway. This polisher doesn’t have a variable-speed option either, which can make the application of compounds limiting.

Specs

  • Brand: SPTA
  • Type: Random orbit
  • Weight: 4.4 pounds

Pros

  • Two sized backing plates
  • Wool and foam pads included
  • Great all-inclusive kit

Cons

  • Motor gets hot
  • Vibration through handle

This kit has everything that you need to use this polisher in a wide variety of applications. It comes with a 780-watt motor and two pad plates that measure five and six inches, and the orbit size is 8 mm. It has six variable speeds that range from 2,000 to 5,500 RPM. There’s a large D-shaped handle on the top and a removable side handlebar. What makes this polisher stand out are the included accessories: you’ll get a carry bag, tools, sanding paper, wool pads, and foam pads. Your kit also comes with a wool washing mitt, microfiber cloth, and cleaning brush.

Unfortunately, this polisher isn’t the most durable, making it ideal for the weekender but not the best option to use daily. The pad plates are also small in comparison to other polishers available.

Specs

  • Brand: DeWalt
  • Type: Standard orbit
  • Weight: 6.7 pounds

Pros

  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Professional-grade performance
  • Three-year warranty

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Not best for beginners

You can depend on this polisher for the long haul with its heavy-duty, durable construction. It’s powered by a 12-amp motor that generates 600-3,500 rpm. The pad plate can fit seven- or nine-inch diameter pads. You can move the handle into three positions, making it comfortable to use and easy to control your polisher. What makes this polisher stand out is the wool ingestion shield, which prevents your wool pads from getting caught up in the polisher while it’s spinning. You’ll appreciate how lightweight the polisher is at 6.7 pounds.

One drawback of this polisher is that the speed control can malfunction, leaving your polisher stuck at one speed. There’s also poor button placement, and you can accidentally hit them while polishing. This polisher is a great option for a more seasoned detailer but not the best choice for beginners.

Specs

  • Brand: Chemical Guys
  • Type: Random orbit
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds

Pros

  • A well-rounded, all-inclusive kit
  • Can be customized
  • Intuitive, multi-purpose design

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Strong vibrations at lower speeds

Make your car’s paint shine with this complete care and polishing kit. It comes with a heavy-duty and powerful polisher along with a strong motor that’s 120 volts and 700 watts that can run at 2,800 to 7,800 rpm. Beginners will find this polisher easy to use with its streamlined controls. You can use this polisher to remove the defects, swirls, and scratches from your car’s paint.

One drawback of this polisher is that it can have a strong vibration at lower speeds. You may also find that the power switches are in awkward places or hard to reach. The pad on this polisher is also smaller than other polishers on this list. However, this is also an advantage for precise work and defect removal.

Specs

  • Brand: Worx
  • Type: Random orbit
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds

Pros

  • Large, ergonomic dual handles
  • Large buffing area
  • Cordless

Cons

  • Heavy and clunky
  • Battery might die

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, reliable, cordless orbital polisher, check out the Worx Car Buffer Polisher Kit. It features an ergonomic dual-handle design that’s great for beginners and seasoned polishers alike. The full-wrap, textured grip allows you to comfortably use this polisher for longer periods than some other competing models. It features a random orbiting frequency of 3,000 opm and a large 10-inch buffing surface that lets you cover a lot of area quickly.

This polisher offers the cordless convenience of being able to go anywhere and polish a variety of surfaces, from automobiles to countertops, banisters, floors, and more. The included 20-volt battery and charger promise 45 minutes of uninterrupted run time before requiring a recharge. You might not get the full 45 minutes, though. Adding another battery to your purchase will help ensure that you have enough juice to complete your job. This unit is also bulkier and heavier to use than some others on the list.

Specs

  • Brand: Ginour
  • Type: Random orbit
  • Weight: 5.7 pounds

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Two handles
  • Compact and lightweight

Cons

  • Flimsier construction
  • Noisy, strong vibration

This compact polisher is comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver. It’s smaller and only weighs 5.7 pounds. Two handles give you the ability to customize how you hold it. The motor can make 2,000 to 6,400 rpm. There are six speed settings to choose from. What makes this polisher stand out is that it comes with five polishing pads, so you can start using your polisher right away without having to buy additional supplies.

Unfortunately, this polisher vibrates a lot and is quite loud. It also stops spinning if you push too hard. However, this is a standard feature of orbital polishers: They stop spinning to ensure you don’t push too hard while polishing.

Our Verdict

For the ideal combination of durability, reliability, functionality, and price, the Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher is my top overall choice for an orbital polisher. For a budget-friendly choice, consider the Black and Decker Random Orbit Waxer/Polisher. It’s a lightweight and comfortable option that’s great for beginners.

What to Consider When Buying Orbital Polishers

There’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy for purchasing the ideal orbital polisher. Taking certain factors into consideration will help you quickly and confidently weed through the various options and get the one that best suits your needs.

Types

Standard

This is the most common type of orbital polisher that’s on the market. Standard polishers are most often found at hardware and auto parts stores. However, you won’t find many professional quality polishers in this type since they lack the polishing ability and strength for commercial use. This style of orbiter moves in a similar motion to how your hand would move while polishing your car. The pad doesn’t spin; instead, it moves in a circular motion as if it’s drawing a circle. 

Random

These polishers are a bit of a combo in how they move since they are between a standard and rotary polisher. The pad does a solid spin like a rotary polisher, then it moves in a circle like a standard polisher and does both of these movements simultaneously. The actual movement is random and generated by the momentum of the spin. It can change based on stroke strength, grip, and pad size. 

Forced Rotation Dual Action

These polishers combine orbital and rotary motions into a simultaneous, forced action. Unlike a random orbital polisher that relies on momentum from the user to rotate the pad, these polishers drive the orbiting and rotating motions together in a consistent pattern. They’re stronger than random orbital polishers but still easy to use and safe for beginners.

Rotary

This type of polisher is the most difficult to master and gain. The pad spins in a continuous circular motion that is smooth and consistent motion, creating the most amount of friction and heat. You’ll want to be careful about how you use these polishers because the heat buildup can damage your paint. It can also create holograms in the finish. However, this type is the most effective at fixing blemishes and scratches in the paint.

Orbital Polisher Key Features

Speed

The most important factor to consider is the polisher's speed. The faster the speed, the better it can create a deep polish and remove scratches. You'll need to be careful, though, since the higher the speed, the more heat, and friction that gets produced. The ideal buffer speed is between 2,000 and 4,000 rpm. 

Size

Find a polisher that is small enough to make it easy to move around your vehicle. It also needs to have a large enough plate to give you plenty of polishing surface. The larger the polishing pads, the more coverage you get, and the faster you can polish your vehicle. Too large of a polishing pad may make it difficult to polish smaller areas, though. 

Weight

Since you have to hold your polisher the entire time you’re using it, a polisher that seems lightweight in the beginning can become very heavy by the end. Don’t choose a polisher that will fatigue your arms and cause you to quit before you’ve completed your vehicle. Lightweight polishers are comfortable and allow you to polish more in one session. 

Pricing

You can get a lightweight, basic orbital polisher, which is an ideal choice for beginners, for less than $50. They offer an easy-to-use, straightforward setup and not a ton of bells and whistles. For a well-constructed, powerful and more professional-level orbital polisher, expect to spend between $65 and $150. These will come with good warranties, multiple application pads, and may even have interchangeable handles. If you’re a serious polisher and want a professional-grade, heavy-duty product, expect to spend more than $200. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Can you use an orbital sander to wax a car?

A: Yes, you can. Make sure that it’s orbital and has a variable speed and be sure to replace the sandpaper with a buffing pad. Apply a product, turn on your sander, and accelerate as you work.

Q: Can an orbital polisher damage my car’s paint?

A: Orbital polishers are unlikely to damage your car’s paint job. Unlike standard polishers, they spin at a safer, lower speed that isn’t likely to burn paint off. Many of these polishers also have spindles built in that will stop rotation if too much pressure is applied.

Q: Can I use an orbital polisher to correct my car’s paint?

A: Yes, you can. Attaching a medium-grade cutting pad to your polisher and using it to apply a polishing compound can help correct surface scuffs, swirls, and minor scratches. If you’re new to this procedure, be sure to practice on an inconspicuous place or another surface prior to really getting after it.

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