Imagine you have two choices when buying a used vehicle. On your left side, you have a car that contains no stains, has a fully intact paint job, and is sparkling in the sun. On your right side, stand a car whose exterior is inundated with tough spots that have marred its appearance. Which one will you choose?
Of course the former. Then why shouldn’t you invest in the best car buffer to give your vehicle the same bright, shiny appearance? Even if you have no plans of selling it in the near future, you could still feel proud of its shimmering exterior attracting lusty appearances from fellow drivers.
Sounds like something that you’d happily pay for? Then check out the below-mentioned car buffer reviews and buying guide. Whether you’re a newbie who has never used a similar tool before or a professional looking to upgrade, this article has got you covered.
Best Car Buffers & Polishers Comparison Chart
Avid Power Car Buffer Polisher
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Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher
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DeWalt DWP849X Variable Speed Buffer/Polisher
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Griot’s Garage 6-inch Random Orbital Polisher
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Black + Decker WP900 Waxer/Polisher
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Meguiar’s G3500 Dual-Action Power System Tool
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Best Car Buffer & Polisher Reviews (Updated List)
1. Avid Power Car Buffer Polisher
One of the most high-performing and easy-to-use buffers, the Avid Power Polisher comes with a six-speed control dial to let you use it for a variety of applications. The first two speed setting, which allows you to rev up its OPM all the way to 3,000 OPM, come handy for waxing and buffing purposes.
The third and the fourth speed settings let you increase the OPMs to 4,500 to adequately polish and clean your surfaces. As for the final two-speed settings, they are undoubtedly the rigorous ones. Hence the reason why you can count on them to safely remove paint defects without too much pressure.
It is equipped with an adjustable handle to provide you with a comfortable grip feeling. Similar is the case with its rubberized body which offers non-slip control throughout its operation. Also, since this model undertakes a soft-start, you won’t have to worry about it burning through the paint.
2. Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher
The Porter-Cable 7424XP is a 6-inch variable speed unit which comes handy for both marine and automotive applications. That’s because of this unit’s ability to accept thread accessories whose size ranges between 5/16’’ to 24’’ spindle thread.
Furthermore, while it won’t give you the convenience of a cordless model, this model’s 2.4m power cord won’t restrict your ease of movement. The handle on this unit can be moved to either side for your comfort and its 8mm throw offers huge flexibility to access most nooks and crannies.
On top of everything else, corners haven’t been cut to keep this unit’s asking price low. We can say that by looking at its speed, which ranges all the way from 2,500 to 6,800 OPM. Though its 3-year warranty against defects and 1-year normal use warranty also belies the myth that you get what you pay for.
3. DeWalt DWP849X Variable Speed Buffer/Polisher
Thanks to its 12 amp motor, the DeWalt DWP849X is one of the most powerful buffers on the market. It has a conveniently located speed control dial which lets you easily set speeds from 0 to 3,500 RPM. Equally useful is its built-in electronic module which helps this unit maintain its speed to deliver better results.
It was surprising for us to note that this unit comes with a wool ingestion shield. Apart from doing what its name implies, the ‘wool ingestion’ shield reduces service costs and increases the life of the tool. So you get the best of both worlds without even knowing or asking for it!
What is more, if you don’t like the length of its cord, DeWalt also has a similar 20V cordless option. Though we recommend you decide in favor of this unit as its soft-start functionality, non-mar rubber gear case and 3-year limited warranty offer a lot of bang for your buck.
4. Griot’s Garage 6-inch Random Orbital Polisher
Though not coming from as famous a brand as some of the other units in this review, the Griot’s Garage 10813STDCRD still charges quite an asking price for its services. Know why? For starters, this unit’s 10’ cord is the longest of most buffers on the market.
Also, with its 6,800 OPM rating, you can rely on it to remove scratches and swirl marks easily (and safely). Its domed, rubberized palm grip gives you a secure feeling when you’re on the job whereas its six-position adjustable loop handle makes your time using this tool as comfortable as possible.
Finally, since this polisher uses an 850W motor, it has the ability to remove defects from most surfaces. You’d also like the positioning of its power switch which lets you access the same using one hand. Also, since it comes with a loop backing plate, mounting and removing the pads is a cinch.
5. Black + Decker WP900 Waxer/Polisher
What is it that makes the Black & Decker WP900 one of the best-selling polishers on the market? Most reviews of this model that we read point to its six-inch random orbit as a contributing factor. It gives you a swirl-free and burn-absent buffing result, and that too at a relatively affordable price.
Ergonomics of this tool will let you finish your job effortlessly. Its two-position handle lets you adjust it to have better control over its operation. The rubberized palm grip ensures maximum control even for sweaty hands. And the user-friendly placement of speed control is also a welcome sign.
Did we just say speed control? That’s right; this unit does have a six-speed control dial which lets you adjust its working pace anywhere between 0 and 6,800 OPM. Add to the equation the fact that it’s a dual-action buffer, and even beginners can take advantage of this tool’s offerings.
6. Meguiar’s G3500 Dual-Action Power System Tool
Most people won’t be initially happy to note that this model is drill-activated. That means that you have to attach it to a drill to work. Granted, its reliance on a drill rules out this unit as an option for pros – as its max RPM is 2,500 – but it’s still a super-attractive option for beginners.
And why’s that the case, you ask. That’s because its drive unit, which oscillates in circular motions, won’t allow you to apply too much pressure in one place. As a result, even while removing swirl marks and providing your car with a bright finish, it won’t pose any safety risks.
Included in the package of this tool are power and wax pads for better polishing results. However, if you want the best results, we recommend that you spend a few extra bucks to purchase a compound power pack (which removes defects) and waxing power pack (that protects the exterior).
Car Buffer Buying Guide
Hopefully, you have gone through the above mentioned reviews before scrolling your way to this section. However, even if you haven’t, there’s no need to worry. This buyer’s guide contains information which will turn you into a knowledgeable car buffer buyer.
What to Consider When Buying a Car Buffer?
Following are the questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing a car buffer:
Low Power Vs High Power
Measured in rotations per minute (RPM), the power of the car buffer determines whether you could use it for commercial car polishing or have to restrict it to DIY purposes. Equally important is the amps rating of the buffer, as tools with more amps tend to ooze more power.
Revolutions Per Minute
Generally speaking, buffers whose RPM is less than 2,500 are considered best for DIY jobs. These models give the speed, ease and professional finish of a commercial model in an accessible, ergonomic home tool.
Conversely, if you’re looking for a buffer for commercial purposes, you should make sure that its RPM is equal to or more than 2,500. Such units have the ability to remove the toughest of stains while doing no harm to the paint.
As you might guess by looking at the abovementioned reviews, the most powerful ones have 12amp motors. The strongest in its class, the motor recognizes when you want to press a bit harder and sustains speed at added pressures.
On the flip side, you can go for buffers containing 4.5amps motors which we recommend you reserve for your personal use. That’s because these motors might not be capable of providing uniform speed at greater pressures.
Corded Vs Cordless Buffers
While it started from your gadgets, the entrance of new players has welcomed the corded vs cordless debate in the buffers’ market as well. Should you go for the added power of the cord-carrying model? Or should you prefer the convenience which only cordless models can offer? Read on to find out.
Starting with a glance at the positive features of corded buffers, one cannot deny that they are more powerful. Since they draw electricity directly from the grid, they ooze more RPMs and can house a bigger amps motor. Also, the absence of a battery has the potential to make them relatively lightweight.
On the other end, corded buffers come only as handier as the length of their cord will allow them to. And in addition to limiting your movement, their cord, if kept unwieldy, might also pose a safety hazard. So you need to be extremely careful if you’re going to use them in a crowded place.
Most people who prefer cordless do the same because of the convenience they offer. With no cord to worry about, you can carry and use them anywhere you want. Also, with the latest models coming with Li-ion batteries, the best cordless car buffers can last longer than their predecessors.
Having said that, there are two areas where cordless models lag behind their cord-carrying counterparts. Most of them, on average, are less powerful and weigh more due to the built-in battery. Hence the reason why most professionals do not give them high marks.
Fixed Action Vs Dual Action
Provided you’re going to choose orbital polishers (more on this later), you’re going to have two choices. They include fixed action orbital buffers and dual-action orbital buffers. Here’s how both these types differ from each other.
Fixed Action Orbital Buffers
Have you ever walked to a detailing workshop? Then it’s unthinkable that you haven’t seen this ubiquitous model before. Though we can agree if you say that you haven’t heard their name before, as most detailers simply call them ‘wax spreaders’.
Their market name should tell you everything you need to know about the utility of these tools. While they are great for adding and removing waxes as well as sealants, you can’t count on them to do extraordinary polishing. Their low speed, power, and RPMs limit their utility to only removing the most benign defects.
Fixed Action Orbital Buffers
Also referred to as DA polishers, they are the go-to choice for experts who are elbows deep in compounding and polishing jobs. However, it isn’t only the pros who can benefit from their offerings – as the safe-to-use mechanism of these tools makes them attractive for novices and hobbyists as well.
The reason why they are called dual-action is because their pads spin on a different axis to that of the spindle. That means that it isn’t the spindle but the whipping action of the backing plate that spins the pad. As a result, when you apply too much pressure, the pad will stop, saving the paint from any damage.
Long Throw Vs Short Throw
If you want to get yourself a DA car buffer, then you need to pay attention to its ‘throw’. Basically, this indicates how far the head can go from the center axis.
Long Throw Buffers
As you might have guessed by the abovementioned description, the higher the throw of your polisher, the more area it will cover in one sweep. That means that you could be able to do more work in less time.
However, there is a downside to choosing long-throw buffers. They have less power concentrated in their head, which means you’ll have less flexibility in paint correction.
Short Throw Buffers
In comparison with long-throw buffers, the smaller ones cover less area in one, full sweep. Though a smaller throw rating can help you by concentrating more power in the head, by giving you more flexibility for paint correction.
When looking at a list of prospective options, make sure to compare the warranty. It goes without saying that if everything else is equal, you should go for a model with a bigger warranty period. It’s only then you can be sure that it will outlast the shelf life listed on its package.
Car Buffer Features and Specifications
Here are some of the features and specs which are a must-have for the top-rated buffers:
- Soft-start capability: Makes the unit safe to operate.
- Automatic shutdown: Turns off the buffer in case of overheating.
- Counterweight mechanism: Won’t allow the model to ‘burn’ through the paint.
- Adjustable handle: Allows you to remain comfortable while operating the device.
- Variable-speed control: Makes the unit useful for a variety of tasks
3 Types of Car Buffers
There are three types of car buffers that are available on the market. They include rotary buffers, orbital buffers, and dual-action buffers. Let’s discuss all of them briefly here.
As a mere glance at rotary buffers will confirm, they resemble angle grinders, because that’s what these units evolved from. Some of them have a fixed handle on one side, though provided you can pay a bit extra, you might get one with a removable handle. Most rotary buffers made in the US have a 5/8’’ diameter and 11 threads per inch, which is the area where you’re going to screw into the braking plate.
Due to their precision and power, rotary buffers are the go-to choice for detailing professionals. Their direct-drive mechanism equips them with a strong rotation which lets these power tools create a high-gloss finish. However, such buffers have huge power consumption and if you aren’t careful with them, they might end up damaging the paint.
– When you want to quickly remove moderate to difficult swirls
– Might also come handy for applying a wax job over the paint
– You can count on them to remove sanding marks and defects
– Generate more heat due to increased pad friction with paint
– Quick removal of materials makes it easy for you to waste paint
– More susceptible to create swirls, burns, and holograms
– Extreme cutting capability
– Highly flexible
– Recommended for commercial use
– Might damage the paint in the hands of the novice
Ever seen a dual-action sander before? Then you’d find nothing new in the appearance of orbital buffers. Some of them have handles on the side, whereas most have them located over the top. There’s a third category that contains nothing but a rubber grip. They have a 5/16’’ diameter and 24 threads per inch female threaded hole.
Most people use orbital buffers for at-home detailing. They consume less power than their rotary counterparts, and are therefore easier to use. You can get them in two types: random oscillating buffers and standard orbital buffers. Provided you’re a pro, you can use these buffers to create a finish that will last a long time.
– When you are only learning the ropes of buffering
– Application of wax and its removal from the paint
– Light to moderate swirl, defect and blemish removal
– Less risky to use than rotary buffers due to eccentric pad motion
– Won’t do any damage as long as you aren’t using aggressive compounds with aggressive pads
– Reduced risk of burning through paint as they reduce their speed when excess pressure is applied
– Can do difficult levels of paint correction
– Best used in commercial applications
Dual Action Buffers
Also referred to as DA buffers, they are the safest choice. That’s because their drive unit, which oscillates in circular motions, won’t allow you to apply too much pressure in one place. Also, this movement allows them to easily remove swirl marks and provide a bright, glistening error-free finish. And that too with minimal to zero safety risks.
With the advancements in polish and pad technology, the DA buffers have become incredibly effective. You can now purchase polishes and pads that have an aggressive start mechanism that you can count on to remove serious defects. Also, provided you can afford to blow a hole in your pocket, you can buy DA polishers that allow the fitting of extra pads for better detail work.
– Come handy for the removal of difficult paint blemishes
– Equally useful for a DIYer as well as amateur enthusiasts
– Zero risk that you might end up damaging your paint
– Safe to use
– Easy to operate
– Aren’t recommended for commercial applications
Difference Between Buffer Types
Rotary Vs Orbital Buffers
In this section, we’re going to shed light on the main factors which differentiate the rotary and orbital buffers.
Most orbital buffers operate in an eccentric circular motion. Such an operating mechanism makes them a safe choice because they never allow you to put too much pressure on the same surface, which means they won’t let you ‘burn’ through the paint.
Rotary buffers, on the contrary, spin in a regular circular motion. They follow a single axis in their way of correcting serious-looking and hardened paintwork blemishes. If you aren’t careful with them, they might require you to rework the paint job as they can burn right through the paint.
There are two specific reasons why orbital buffers are a must-have for an amateur DIYer. First, due to their operating mechanism, these units are a cinch to operate. Second, and this reason stems from the first, the orbital buffers are safe to use.
Everyday enthusiasts shouldn’t go anywhere near the rotary buffers, though. Their delicate operating mechanism means if you aren’t careful while using them, you might have to pay in both time as well as money. Hence the reason why only experts should use them.
What should you choose?
In the light of the abovementioned factors, it should have been clear by now which of the two units most deserve your money. We recommend that you choose orbital buffers if you want to remove a few, tiny scratches from your paintwork, prefer something that’s easy (and relatively safe) to use.
Rotary buffers, on the other hand, should be used by professional detailers who have been using similar power tools in the past to correct serious paintwork blemishes. As an amateur enthusiast could do more harm than good by using these tools.
Buffer Vs Polisher
Ask a layman with no knowledge of detailing, and they might inform you that there’s no difference between buffers and polishers. Guess what, they are right. As there’s no virtual difference between buffers and polishers.
Need proofs? Then go through this article, and you’ll see us using both these words to describe the machines. We have done that because some of you might be more familiar with one term over the other, and the goal of this piece is to make sure that everything is easy to understand for you.
Electric Buffers or Hand Buffing?
In order to begin buffing, you’d need to decide whether you prefer an electric buffer or hand buff. An electric buffer uses a rotating pad to buff at high speeds. Hand buffers, on the other hand, require you to apply the polish by hand. There are pros and cons to both, but ultimately the decision is yours.
There are two types of costs you need to pay attention to while choosing a buffer: initial and running. The electric buffers cost more on both fronts. Apart from costing extra upfront, these machines require proper maintenance using tools that you’ve to purchase separately.
Hand buffers, on the contrary, come cheap. You don’t need anything other than the polish, soft cloths and buffing pads to get the job done. Also, while they do require periodic maintenance from your side, you won’t have to spend extra to keep them up and running.
Another factor you need to take into account when choosing between electric and handheld buffers is your car’s condition. If it contains plenty of imperfections, has tough stains, then polishing it by hand might not get the job done.
Conversely, electric-powered machines have the ability to cut through layers of cloudiness and dirt. That means that if you don’t want to repeat the buffing process one too many times, the electric-powered polishers may be your best bet.
Why, despite all the above-mentioned disadvantages, do people still go for hand buffers? Because electric ones cannot compete with them when it comes to precision. Their large size makes them ineligible to reach the hard-to-reach areas of your car.
Hand buffers suffer from no such problem. They are highly-precise machines which can reach every nook and cranny of your vehicle. Also, with less moving parts, you’d have to worry less about them burning through the paint and causing irreversible damage.
Benefits of Polishing Your Car
Despite it being an important part of their car service, many vehicle owners do not understand the advantages which come with car polishing. The result of their lax attitude is having a car whose visual defects mar its appearance.
5 Great Reasons Why You Should Polish Your Car
With this in mind, let’s look at the benefits which you can harness by polishing your car:
Correct Paint Defects
Apart from having an uneven coating and swirl marks, the appearance of some cars is a victim of botched-up paint jobs. The cure for these disturbances is car polish. With its slightly abrasive properties, it makes your car look smooth by evening up the paint.
Don’t forget to check out our roundup of the high-quality ceramic coating reviews.
As long as you don’t want to remove scratches from your car’s tires – in which case you need to consult the reviews of pressure watchers for cars – the car buffers, despite their abrasive characteristics, will rid the entire exterior of your vehicle from scratches.
No matter how hard you try, there might be some stubborn spots on your car’s paint that won’t go away. Car polishers might not be able to remove them but they a pretty good job of hiding those spots.
Get Shiny Looks
Go through the abovementioned benefits, and you’d find all of them pointing towards the direction of making your car’s paint look smooth. What we haven’t told you yet is that the top-rated car buffers, like the best tire shines, also give your vehicle a shiny appearance.
Unveil the new paint layer
Most people don’t know that every car paint includes two layers: the top, thin layer and the bottom, thick one. Our article on choosing a pressure washer for cars explains in more detail, the latter is shinier. You can reveal it to the world by the application of car buffers.
4 Car Buffing Tips
Since this isn’t a car air freshener buying guide – which you can unit whenever and however you deem fit – there are some tips using which you can take the effectiveness of your car buffer to a whole new level. They include:
- Prepare the surface:
Give the car’s exterior a good coat with a clay preparation bar before buffing. This will minimize the concentration of environmental contaminants and railhead particles on the surface.
- Minimize Swirl Marks:
Regularly clean buffing pads. To dry them after usage, hang them and never put them in a dryer.
- Buff in a proper way:
Work your vehicle from right to left (in an anticlockwise motion). Also, when it’s plugged in, refrain from turning the buffer upside down.
- Protect rubber side moldings:
To make sure that they don’t get burned or stained, place a proper cover over the rubberized moldings on the side of your car’s body.
FAQs and Answers
Q: What’s the difference between low and high-quality car polishes?
A: Low-quality polishes merely cloud the top surface of your car’s paint. High-quality ones, meanwhile, give it a wet-looking, deep shine.
Q: What are the dangers of dry polishing?
A: If you try to do dry polishing, nine out of ten times you’ll end up burning through the paint. It’s for this reason that we recommend that you should work the polishing product.
Q: How to set the speed (RPMs) of your buffer for most optimal polishing?
A: Two factors determine the best RPM for buffing: type of pad you’re using and how much you’re cutting. If you’re using wool pads, you can do light cutting between 1600 and 1800 RPM and heavy cutting between 2000 and 2,500 ROM.
Q: What are the types of buffing pads?
A: There are three major types of buffing pads. These are wool, foam and microfiber buffing pads. You can use any of them on either rotary polisher or dual action orbital as long as the diameter of the pad is equal to or greater than that of the backing plate of your buffer.
Q: Can I use a buffer to wax my car?
A: Of course, you can use a buffer to wax your car. Simply apply the wax applicator over your buffer’s pad, and apply the wax to your car’s exterior. Once you have applied the wax, take off the wax applicator and replace it with a wax removal cloth. Plugin the buffer and remove the dried wax using long strokes.
Ask professional car detailers, and they’ll tell you that having the best car buffer in your tool kit can give you a lot of benefits. Whether you’re going to use these on your own vehicle or on a commercial scale, these tools will help provide your car with a glistening finish that onlookers will stand and admire.
Luckily for you, a mere scroll through our car buffer reviews will make it clear that their utility isn’t limited to automobiles. People all around the world have been using these tools for their boats, and in some cases, airplanes, provided you can afford one.
On top of everything else, these tools won’t cost you to rob a bank to pay their asking price. Depending on your needs, you can pay as much or as little as you want. Though you need to be careful as the maxim, which states that you get what you pay for, mostly holds true when it comes to car polishers.