So, you’ve seen what kind of magic a good car polish can do for your vehicle. If you’re ready to step up your at-home car detailing a notch, it might be time to invest in one of the best car buffers to get the job done better and faster. You’ve come to the right spot! We’ve done the research to find you the best car buffers available today.
Why Buy a Car Buffer?
If you ever have waxed or polished your car by hand, you probably thought there had to be a better and faster way. After all, applying and removing wax is a chore that your arm and shoulder will rebel against. Fortunately, the detailing industry now has a variety of car buffers that can make this chore go quickly and smoothly.
Why You Should Use a Car Buffer to Polish And Wax Your Car
Cars today are painted and sealed with protective clear coats that make a showroom shine difficult to maintain with car wax and a rag alone. Over time the paint starts to get dull and shows swirls and micro-scratches. That’s when you apply polish to restore the paint to “as new” condition and then follow up with a wax or sealant.
But here’s the “rub.” To effectively work that polish in, it has to be rubbed over the car’s entire exterior surface. Essentially the polish smooths the surface and removes a microscopic layer of the clear coat to get that new, mirror-like finish. This is where a high-quality car buffer comes in handy.
Operating a car buffer can be intimidating to a lot of car owners. They are heavy power tools that are capable of generating ridiculous amounts of torque and rpm, but they are also the best tool for buffing and polishing your ride to a pristine showroom shine. Fortunately, an orbital polisher is also forgiving and easy to use.
Two Types of Car Buffers
The best way to wax, buff, and polish your car is with an electric polisher. There are two different types of electric car polishers: variable speed rotary polishers and dual-action orbital polishers. These car buffers differ in how the buffing pads rotate around the motor of the machine.
Variable Speed Rotary Polishers
Rotary car buffers typically resemble an angle grinder, with a fixed handle on the side. The buffer on a rotary polisher rotates in the direction of the motor which means the outside of the buffing pad spins faster than the inside of the pad.
Rotary polishers can be used to spread wax on to the surface of a vehicle. However, they are generally utilized to remove heavy swirls, defects, and sanding marks from the factory finish. The concern with a rotary polisher is an inexperienced user might leave it in one spot too long and press too hard and actually “burn” or damage the paint. This is even more prevalent if the user has a wool pad on the polisher.
Dual Action Orbital Polishers
Orbital polishers differ from rotary car buffers because the pad and spindle oscillate around a different axis, which creates a different buffing pattern than a rotary car buffer. Because the polisher moves on its two axes simultaneously there is practically no risk of burning through your paint.
Orbital polishers perform exceptionally well at applying and removing wax and removing defects from the factory finish. Check out these options and give it a whirl.
The Best Car Buffers And Polishers On The Market
Best Overall Choice
1. Porter Cable 7424XP Variable Speed Orbital Polisher
Porter Cable is the “OG” of orbital polishers and revolutionized the buffer industry. The 7424XP Variable Speed Polisher is one of the better electric car buffers available today. It’s as popular with professionals as it is with car enthusiasts as it is remarkably user-friendly and safe to use on any finish.
The 7424XP Variable Speed Polisher is marketed as the safest car buffing machine available because it features a random orbit, heat overload protection, and variable speed options, all of which prevent you from damaging your car’s paint. It has a 4.5 amp motor and fits 6-inch pads. The unit rotates at 2,500-6,800 orbits per minute.
The 7424XP car polisher is the perfect electric buffer for beginners. It’s a dual-action random orbital polisher, which means the buffer pad moves around the spindle similar to how the Earth moves around the sun. The random orbit action makes the 7424XP an immensely effective buffer that is powerful while still being easy to use.
The handle can be adjusted for right or left-handed users and is designed to minimize vibration and increases the control of the unit. With all these great features, it’s easy to see why the Porter Cable 7424XP Variable Speed Polisher is an industry favorite.
Car owners looking for the perfect showroom shine in no time should try out the Flex XC 3401 VRG Orbital Polisher. Plenty of full-time professional detailers swear by their Flex polishers.
This 19-inch long car buffing machine is packed with power. The buffer incorporates a dual-action orbital rotation that simulates the circular movement of your hand and is designed specifically to work with a maximum of 6.5-inch pads. When combined with the 590-watt motor, it is powerful enough to polish away the most stubborn blemishes.
The dual action motion of the FLEX Dual-Action Polisher ensures the buffer pad moves in a forced rotation and keeps moving even when extra pressure is exerted on the machine. The result is a circular application that actively reduces vibration and won’t damage your finish.
If you are looking for a budget-friendly polisher, this Black and Decker machine will meet your needs. This car buffer only has one only speed and runs on random orbit at 4,400 orbits per minute.
It includes a ten-foot cord and two polishing bonnets instead of a backing plate. When using the 6-inch bonnet (which looks like a shower cap), you slip it over the buffer’s base disc and use the foam bonnet to apply the polish and the buffing bonnet to remove it. Additional bonnets can also be purchased as these will wear out over time.
The two-handle design places your hands fore and aft of the bonnet/faceplate for easy use and precise control. Though you don’t get as many features or functions with this particular buffer, if you’re looking for an economical machine that still can help you detail your car’s finish this inexpensive option will fit your needs.
4. Chemical Guys TORQ 10FX Random Orbital Polisher
So it stands to reason that Chemical Guys, a boutique car detailing product manufacturer, built a great polisher to use with their products. The TORQ 10FX Random Orbital Polisher is designed to deliver precision power. Its six variable speeds provide a smooth delivery of buffing and polishing power to your car’s finish.
The slim, ergonomic design makes it easy to hold and control, with little vibration. The TORQ 10FX Random Orbital Polisher powers through swirls, scratches, and defects on any factory finishes and can be used to apply car wax and polish in mere minutes.
What sets the TORQ 10FX Random Orbital Polisher apart from other car buffers is its digital interface which displays the speed control buttons. This user-friendly design allows for easy adjustment of the 700-watt motor. It rotates at 1,500-4,200 opm (orbits per minute) and works with any 3-6-inch pad.
All of these features combine to make the TORQ 10FX Random Orbital Polisher a car buffer and polisher that delivers the maximum level of balance, precision, and power.
If you have been washing or detailing your cars at home, you probably have some Meguiar’s products on your shelf. This company has been a mainstay in car detailing for ages, and this variable polisher shows why they have a reputation for quality.
The Meguiars MT300 Dual Action Polisher is a dual-action car buffer that is ideally suited for both car owners and professional auto-detailers alike. The multi-position “D” handle is centered over the disc to allow precise control of the polisher. And, this lightweight model weighs less than 5.5 pounds so you can easily use it for hours.
The Meguiars MT300 Dual Action Polisher is ergonomically designed to provide a smooth, seamless operation that reduces fatigue over extended periods of use. It accommodates pads from 3-6 inches in diameter, depending on the backing disc which you have to buy separately.
It includes a digital torque management system, a thumb-adjustable speed dial, and a billet counterweight. When combined, these features enable a controlled, precise operation that maintains buffer pad rotation and provides easy speed control. You also get a soft start feature when turning on the machine.
The Meguiars MT300 Dual Action Polisher includes a powerful 500-watt motor that enables it to remove swirl marks, scratches, and water spots with minimal effort and easily apply wax and polish. It offers a range from 3,000-7,500 orbits per minute. All-in-all, this is a superb electric car buffer that truly delivers the kind of performance and reliability you would expect from Meguiars.
The Dewalt DWP849X Variable Speed Polisher is one of the auto industry’s highest-ranking picks when it comes to electric car buffers. This ergonomic buffer is easy to control and comes with a 12 amp motor that offers 600-3,500 rpm. But note this is NOT an orbital buffer, so those 7-9 inch pads could burn through the paint if you aren’t careful.
The extra-long straight handle and three-position bale handle offer maximum control thanks to the buffer’s intuitive and comfortable design. It features a non-marring rubber gear case to reduce the risk of accidentally scratching the car while you are polishing it.
The Dewalt DWP849X Variable Speed Polisher also features an ergonomic two-finger trigger, and a sculpted rear handle allows for a range of finger positions and grips. All of these features combine to create a powerful car buffing machine that is comfortable to use whether you are a one-car owner or a professional auto-detailer with hours of buffing work ahead of you.
Measuring around 19-inches long, the Bosch Gpo 14 Ce Polisher is one of the larger electric car buffers available. However, the extra-long length of the Bosch Polisher does not detract from the effectiveness.
Instead, the added handle length gives you an extra level of stability and precision to better handle the vast amount of power delivered by the huge 12 amp motor. It also has a “D” handle to help focus your grip above the pad.
The Bosch Polisher is a versatile buffer. It’s comfortable to use, even over extended periods. The ergonomic design allows for maximum adjustment and ease of use. It has six-speed settings and offers a range from 700-3,000 rpm.
The Bosch Polisher weighs less than 6 pounds and is a bit noisy, but when it comes to the overall effectiveness and car buffing power, there is no beating the Bosch Tool Company.
The Makita 9237CX3 Electronic Polisher is a favorite among auto-detailing professionals and car enthusiasts alike for its robust power and control. Along with that, you get a rather hefty machine that weighs in at nearly 10 pounds.
A 10 amp motor and variable speed control combine to make the Makita 9237CX3 Polisher a powerful electric buffer that is ideally suited for clear coats and restoring a factory finish. It also has a soft start feature for a smoother startup that minimizes polish “fling-off.” The polisher has an ergonomic, rubberized loop handle and two-finger trigger for extra comfort and control.
This Makita polisher differs from other car buffers because of the inclusion of constant low or high-speed control. Constant speed control maintains electric buffer speed by applying additional power to the motor when it senses the electric buffer is under load.
For long hours of use on a wide array of vehicles, finishes, and applications the Makita 9227C Electronic Polisher is a great option. It’s powerful, comfortable, and reliable, and when it comes to the best electric buffers, it’s hard to ask for much more than that.
If you’re looking for a portable, battery-powered option you can’t go wrong with this variable polisher from Milwaukee. This is a rotary polisher that goes from 0-2,000 rpm.
The 18-volt battery (not included) is said to be long lasting and can last for a moderate polishing of a full-size car. Or grab an extra battery and charger, and you’ll be unlimited. This buffer uses standard 7-inch pads. With no cord to get in the way, you don’t need to be concerned with the cord ruining your finish.
It also has a rubber covering over the front of the machine to minimize damage. You can dial in your variable speed on this buffer to match your needs. Most of the machine’s weight is centered over the polisher so it naturally helps focus the efforts on the pad. If you’re looking for a car buffer that is extremely convenient to use, you’ll love this cordless option.
This rotary polisher from Ginour offers you an amazing set of options resulting in a versatile tool for detailing your car. The machine offers a “D” type handle that rests over the polishing disc. Or you can use a side handle, which can be installed on either the right or left side. Additionally, you can remove both handles and just hold it by the top edge and back grip.
The six variable speeds, which range from 450-1700 rpm, are indicated by a digital screen that also stores the previous speed setting from when the buffer was turned off. So when you power it back on, it resumes at your previous desired speed. Plus you can lock that speed in place to free up your fingers and adjust your grip as needed. The 1200 watt motor will be more than powerful enough for a solid car detailing.
The budget-friendly kit includes several sanding discs for use on wood, and for the car detailer, it also offers some polishing discs and sponge pads, in two sizes, so you have everything you need to get started. You can use the smaller 150mm pads in tight spaces, and easily swap to the 180 mm pads for large paint panels.
The five-meter cord gives you some room to work, but like most polishers, you’ll probably need an extension cord based on your power source.
How to Use a Car Buffer
A car buffer makes the arduous and tedious task of polishing a car by hand easier and more efficient, just like any power tool makes a task easier. Following a few steps will make the job even easier.
Most buffers come with a “velcro” or hook and loop disc as a base. To get started, you will attach a foam applicator pad to use with your wax and polish. These pads come in different densities or “roughness” depending on the condition of the vehicle’s paint.
Typically, you work the buffer up and down in vertical passes and then repeat right to left with horizontal passes, overlapping the passes by one third. This way, you will still be doing multiple passes with the car buffer on a single panel to ensure even results and complete coverage.
A car buffer makes polishing a dream and allows you to work the polish much harder and way more effectively. A lot of the best polishing machines typically rotate over 5,000 times per minute. Just imagine how many minutes it would take you to rub the polish into a car’s finish 5,000 times! Not to mention it’s much easier to apply pressure with the best car buffers.
Once you are satisfied with the polish’s outcome, you can finish up with a wax or sealant. Again, the car buffer makes the application so much easier. Both your car and your body will thank you.
Get The Best Car Buffer And Get To Work
If you haven’t waxed or polished your car in a while, then it is time to take your car’s aesthetic to the next level by purchasing an electric car buffer and putting in some time to make your car shine!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is an orbital buffer the best way to polish a car?
An orbital polisher eliminates the risk of burning your paint and is significantly faster than doing it by hand. Hands down, an orbital polisher is the choice of professionals and enthusiasts for car polishing.
Do I need to use the side handle on the polisher?
Many polishers have a handle that screws in on one side of the unit. This allows you to use two hands to help control the polisher. The extra handle can help you move the unit right to left while the other hand on the base of the machine can guide it up and down. While you don’t need to use this side handle, it does provide additional control.
How do you keep the cord out of the way when using a car buffer?
If you just run the buffer with the cord dragging along, you risk the cord marring the paint surface or, worse, getting caught up in the buffer. If you sling the cord up and over your shoulder and then tuck the cord onto your belt, it will stay away from the car’s surface. This makes it easier for you to focus on polishing the car.
How do you control the polish on the pad when you first start the polisher?
First, remember a little polish goes a long way. Apply three or four spots of polish, about the size of a nickel, around the center of the pad. Many machines offer a slow startup so you can work the polish around the car panel as the buffer ramps up. Otherwise, before starting the polisher you can dab the pad against the car panel in three or four spots to distribute the polish and prevent it from slinging off when you first start the buffer up.
What is the difference between a buffer and polisher?
These two terms are used interchangeably when it comes to the orbital or rotary buffer/polisher machine you are using. These machines can be used to buff or polish your car, and the actual compound or product you use will determine whether you are buffing or polishing your finish.
Mark C. Bach is a well preserved automotive junkie with 30W oil in his veins and remembers feeler gauges and brake springs. He has a love for all things that move, especially old-school muscle cars. Bach covers the car auctions and the automotive scene and writes for a variety of outlets, including Chevy Classics, Round-Up Publications and eBay Motors, and maintains Route66pubco.com.