Are you still using your hands to buff and polish your car’s paint? You’re not alone. Most people still prefer the old-school way of applying and removing wax. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with using your hands at all. But my 2017 best car buffer reviews will prove that you don’t need to exert too much elbow grease to achieve a showroom shine.
But before we get to the actual reviews, I would like to shatter all those misconceptions about machine polishing. If you are like most people who think that machine polishing is for professional use only, then you’re not alone. This is probably the biggest misconception of all. Back in the olden days of motoring, I never had any experience using an orbital or rotary buffer. But that was until my neighbor opened a small car repair and detailing shop.
You know that I love cars. I spend copious amounts of time and money just to get my car looking great. That includes spending at least 4 hours a week prepping, polishing, and waxing the paint. I also know how to change the oil, remove the spark plugs, and diagnose OBD2 trouble codes using a vehicle scanner. I’m not a professional mechanic, but I’m just a simple car nut who knows a thing or two about maintenance and repair.
My neighbor approached me one hot summer morning while I was washing my sports coupe. He basically offered me a summer job. I was 22 back then, and it seemed like a good idea. My job was to assist the head painter in buffing, polishing, and waxing the cars in the shop. Of course, I said yes. This was a golden opportunity for me to apply my skills and getting paid in the process.
It was during my stint as a detailer that I learned the rudiments of using an orbital and rotary buffer. I’m here to share a thing or two about the types of buffers and why you should consider using one for your car.
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Best Car Buffer Reviews – Simple Guide To Machine Polishing
The Types Of Car Buffers
There are two types of machines or tools that you can use to remove scratches, swirl marks, and other imperfections in the paint.
1. Direct Drive Rotary Buffers
This type of machine utilizes a direct drive motor. The auger is driven directly by the electric motor and the drive mechanism. The result is a powerful rotating motion that spins in a clockwise direction. This type of buffer is preferred if you need to remove a LOT of paint from a particular surface like the hood, roof, or trunk. Take note that I mentioned the word remove. This machine is so powerful that it can easily burn off the paint if you’re not careful.
A direct drive rotary buffer (or simply rotary buffer) is best used for heavy jobs like removing deep scratches and severe oxidation from the paint. This machine is best left in the hands of a professional detailer or car painter equipped with the knowledge and experience in operating such a tool. With that being said, a rotary buffer is not the preferred choice if you do a lot of waxing and polishing in your garage.
2. Random Orbital Polisher
This is the buffer that you need if all you want is to maintain the showroom shine of your paint. Orbital polishers are safer to use and will not burn off the paint. This is because orbital buffers have a slower speed compared to rotary buffers, and some even have a clutch mechanism that will stop the rotating pad when too much pressure is applied to the paint surface.
Orbital polishers are designed to rotate in a large circular motion while the pad oscillates in multiple small circles. This combined rotating action makes it ideal for removing mild to moderate scratches and swirl marks without dulling the paint. If you are thinking about using a machine to polish your vehicle, then an orbital polisher is the one to buy.
I spent a lot of time using orbital buffers during my stint as an assistant detailer in my neighbor’s shop. This machine is lighter and easier to use. You simply can’t go wrong with an orbital buffer. It sure beats using your hands alone, and you will ultimately save a lot of time as well.
Expert Detailing Tips
Want to make your car stand out from the rest? Here are a few expert detailing tips that you need to consider.
- The single best way to maintain a showroom quality shine is to employ the three-step process: prep, polish, and wax. Apply surface prep to remove stubborn dirt and stains from the paint. Next, apply polish to buff out small scratches and swirl marks and to give the paint a glossy shine. Finally, apply carnauba wax to seal the polish in the paint and to add an extra dose of shine and protection in between waxing.
- In my experience, it is best to apply wax and polish at least once a month. However, applying wax and polish once every 3 months is well and good. This will all depend on the severity of use (is your car used every single day or does it spend a lot of time in a covered garage). Environmental factors should also be considered when assessing the condition of your paint.
- Here is the easiest way to determine if your paint needs waxing or polishing: carefully run your dry hand over the surface of the paint after washing and drying your vehicle. The surface should feel as smooth as glass. If there are a lot of rough spots in the paint, or if the surface feels rough to the touch, then you need to apply wax.
- Even if you apply wax on a monthly basis, you will still need to wash your car regularly to protect the paint from stains and other types of surface imperfections. In order to maintain the natural beauty of your car’s paint, it is best to wash your vehicle at least once a week. Click this link to learn more on proper washing techniques.
- If you still prefer hand polishing over machine polishing, then I highly suggest that you equip yourself with a bevy of microfiber towels and applicators.
The 2017 Best Car Buffers Review
The Porter-Cable 6-inch Variable-Speed Polisher has a random orbit and swirl-free polishing action. It is equipped with a variable-speed dial that you can adjust from 2,500 rpm all the way to 6,800 rpm. What I like about this buffer is the 2-position removable side handle that offers greater control and comfort as you operate the machine. The handle can be positioned to the left or right side of the buffer for an ambidextrous operation.
The Porter-Cable Variable-Speed Polisher weighs 5 ½ pounds and comes with a 6-inch polishing pad. This machine is backed by a 3-year warranty and a 1-year free service contract.
- Light and compact
- Powerful polishing action
- Adjustable handle for easier operation
- Included polishing pad wears easily
- Some issues with the variable speed dial
The DEWALT Variable Speed Polisher is equipped with a 12-amp motor and ball-bearing construction that makes it ideal for demanding applications. This buffer is also equipped with a variable-speed function that allows you to adjust the speed from 0 to 600 rpm for no-load speeds and 0 to 3,500 rpm for heavy applications.
But the great thing about this buffer is the built-in electronic module that automatically sustains a chosen speed under operation so you can achieve better results without exerting too much effort or time in adjusting the proper settings.
The DEWALT Variable Speed Polisher can be fitted with 7-inch and 9-inch polishing pads. This buffer is backed by a 90-day money back guarantee, a 1-year free service contract, and a 3-year limited warranty.
- Powerful yet precise polishing action
- Automatic speed adjustment
- Great for personal and industrial use
- It’s a bit heavy at 10.5 pounds
- Prohibitive price
When it comes to auto detailing, Meguiar’s is always on top of the list. The Meguiar’s G3500 DA Power System Tool is small, light, and easy on the pocket. It costs less than $40 and it only weighs 1.2 pounds. However, this kit requires the use of a 3/8” corded drill with an operating speed of 1,200 to 2,500 rpm. If you have a corded drill at home and you don’t want to spend more money on a separate power tool that is only good for a single job, then this kit is highly recommended for you.
This buffer is best used for waxing, polishing, and compounding the paint finish. With the dual-action polishing motion, you can wax an average-sized sedan in less than 30 minutes. This is a great polishing tool to use at home.
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Good polishing action
- Great price
- Not a stand-alone product (you need a corded drill)
- The polishing pad wears easily
The Goplus 6-inch Variable Speed Dual-Action Polisher is probably one of the best tools that you can use in detailing your car. I particularly like the variable speed function that allows you to dial in the precise settings in an easy and hassle-free manner.
The Goplus Random Orbital Kit has a no-load speed of 2000 to 4800 rpm. Although I did find the 6-inch wool bonnet to be a bit small, the powerful 8 amp motor makes it incredibly easy to sand or polish any type of paint finish.
This kit is also equipped with an ergonomic handle to reduce strain when using the machine. The handle also offers better control when polishing sensitive surfaces.
I find this product ideal to use if you know a thing or two about buffing and polishing, but the variable speed feature also makes this great for professional or business use. Priced at less than $90, this buffer is light on the pocket as well.
- Powerful motor
- Variable speed setting
- Great price
- It’s a bit heavy at 7 pounds
I’m going to say this outright. The Griot’s Garage Random Orbital Polisher costs around $150. It is not the most expensive buffer in the market, but it isn’t the cheapest either. However, this tool is user-friendly and can easily be mastered by beginners while still providing professional-quality results each and every time.
The Griot’s Garage car buffer is powered by a 7-amp 850-watt motor that can effectively remove swirl marks and medium scratches with a single swift motion. It operates in a low-speed and low heat condition so you can use this machine with confidence without the risk of burning down or dulling the paint.
Best of all, this car buffer is equipped with an adjustable loop handle and 10-foot power cord for an easier and hassle-free polishing experience.
- Powerful motor provides excellent polishing action
- Adjustable loop handle
- Competitive price
- Minor issues with product quality
- It’s a bit heavy
I got to spend a moderate amount of time using all the car buffers in this review. When used as directed, all of them provided a sparkling showroom shine devoid of hairline scratches and ugly swirl marks. All of them are ergonomic and easy to use, but there are two products that stood out from the five products in this test.
The Griot’s Garage Random Orbital Polisher is indeed one of the best, and I’m not speaking for myself here. It remains a bestseller because it performs admirably even if it’s a bit on the bulky side of the weight spectrum.
However, my money goes to the PORTER-CABLE 6-inch Variable-Speed Polisher. It is lighter and less bulky than the competition, and the variable speed setting makes it a multitasking polisher that you can use on automotive, marine, and home applications.