Picking out the best car polishers for a beginner is extremely confusing at first. You’re probably not sure where to even start and it certainly doesn’t help that there are tons of polishers on the market with all kinds of different features and specifications. To save you the headache, I’ve done the research for you and found the three best polishers for beginners on the market.
Is a Polisher the Same as a Buffer?
To answer this question, we need to understand the difference between polishing and buffing. Polishing involves the use of abrasive polishing compounds to restore the shine of car paint by smoothing it out and removing imperfections. On the other hand, buffing involves using more forgiving and slightly less abrasive compounds and waxes to smooth out the surface.
Now, as you can probably tell, there are no distinctions that differentiate buffers from polishers, as the difference between polishing and buffing is so minuscule.
So, the answer is yes, a polisher is the same as a buffer. The only difference is their type.
What Are the Different Types of Polishers?
There are two types of polishers or buffers that you should care about as a beginner: Rotary and Dual Action Random Orbital. The main difference between the two is the way they rotate. A Rotary polisher spins the pad in one direction on a single axis (similar to an angle grinder), while the Orbital polisher moves its pad in different axis or orbits.
Rotary polishers are difficult to learn and aren’t as forgiving as Orbital polishers, meaning that they could ruin your paint with improper use. The rotary buffer removes material much faster than the Orbital buffer – that’s the main reason why people use them. On the other hand, speed comes with a price as it’s very easy to burn the paint and cause swirls and holograms if you use the rotary buffer incorrectly. Because of the steep learning curve, I wouldn’t recommend buying a rotary as your first polisher.
Dual Action Random Orbital polishers are the most common type of polisher. Unlike rotary polishers, the pad on DA polishers is free spinning and loops around in orbits, which means you can stop the pad from spinning while the motor is still turning the spindle. The ability to slow and stop the pad is the reason why Dual Action polishers are safe – too much pressure will simply stop the polisher without damaging your paint.
What Type of Polisher Is Best For a Beginner?
If you are a beginner, a dual action polisher is much safer and easier to learn. It’s difficult to burn paint or strike through the clear coat when using a DA polisher because DA polishers produce very little heat due to their irregular motion and ability to slow down under too much pressure.
Things to Look out for When Buying a Polisher
While there are very cheap polishers on the market, they are not worth it most of the time. A cheap polisher will likely be too weak to get the desired result or just break prematurely.
It sucks, but you get what you pay for when buying polishers. A good price range to look for is 100 – 200$, as there are good all-around polishers to be found that should last for a long time.
A polisher might not look all that heavy but after a few hours of using the thing, your arms will get tired. A lightweight polisher will help you finish the job faster since you won’t have to take as many breaks to rest your arms.
A polisher that weighs less than 6lbs is considered lightweight, so look out for those if weight is important to you.
Since you’ll be holding a polisher for a few hours, it pays to get a polisher that is comfortable to hold and easy to control. Some buffers vibrate more than others and you can reduce the vibrations by wearing gloves, but a nice and comfortable rubber grip is a worthy feature to look for in a polisher none the less.
It’s important for the polisher to have a good range of speed, as fine-tuning the speed will give you better results. A polisher with a range of 1000 – 3000 RPM is a good start for an all-around polisher.
The 3 Best Car Polishers for Beginners
DEWALT DWP849X Buffer/Polisher – Editors’ Pick
The DeWalt DWP849X is a popular and very capable polisher. This powerful, durable, and versatile buffer is unmatched by other competitors at such price range, and for that, it’s my top pick for a beginner.
Power is one of the main features of the DeWalt – the 1250-Watt, 12-amp soft-start motor is more than enough for beginners. Even at the highest speed of 3,500 RPM, the motor doesn’t feel strained.
The body of the DeWalt is very versatile. It could be used with two different types of handles for best control. The Straight Side handle sticks out to either side of the polisher for both left and right-handed users. The Bale handle fits around both sides of the buffer, giving you a solid grip on the top of the tool and the ability to pivot the handle forward or backward.
The DWP849X comes with a 7” and 9” backing plate with a 5/8 – 11 spindle thread. Since the buffer is so popular, most aftermarket attachment plates will compatible.
For the price, the DWP849X is the best polisher for a beginner on the market. It’s pretty much as good as it gets before entering the professional buffer territory and is more than enough for occasional car care.
The body of the buffer is versatile and the motor doesn’t break a sweat when polishing a medium-sized vehicle. However, the motor could generate some heat when used professionally for extended periods of time, so if you want something to withstand rigorous professional usage (RVs, Semi-trucks or Boats), you should look for high end professional buffers.
- Powerful 12 amp, all bar bearing motor
- Speed range of 600 – 3500 RPM
- Heat-treated, precision-cut steel gears
- Non-mar rubber gear case cover
- Wool ingestion shields
- Electronic speed control
- Wheel diameter: 7”, 9”
- Tool Length: 18.5 IN
- Weight: 6.7 lbs
Rupes LHR 15ES Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher – Best Pick for Enthusiasts
The Rupes LHR 15ES Big Foot is the Ferrari of car buffers – it’s very powerful, yet refined and smooth. This makes the buffer excellent for both detailing professionals and car enthusiasts.
Rupes is an Italian toolmaker, trusted by many high-end detail shops. The LHR 15ES Big Foot has an extremely powerful 500-watt soft-start motor, with a speed range of 2000-5000 OPM and will not show any signs of straining or overheating even when used for extended periods.
The buffer is named Big Foot for a reason – it has a large 15 millimeter orbit, compared to an average orbital polisher’s 4-8 millimeter throw. An advantage of such a big throw is that the polisher covers a larger surface area, meaning you’ll finish the job in considerably less time. The Big Foot has a 5 inch hook and loop backing plate, which accommodates 5.5 and 6 inch pads – more than enough for most vehicles.
The buffer is well balanced, extremely smooth, and very quiet compared to other machines. While the LHR 15ES Big Foot is a bit on the heavier side, it’s still easy to control and very comfortable to hold even on long detailing sessions.
Like a fine-tuned Italian sports car, the Rupes LHR 15ES Big Foot is very refined and features great engineering. Also, like an Italian sports car, the Rupes is pricey and would be an overkill if you’re just going to use it once a year to detail a single medium-sized car (unless it’s a bigger vehicle, like an RV, SUV or a truck). But if you’re a beginner and are considering detailing cars on the regular to earn some extra money or you just want to detail your RV – the Big Foot is definitely the right buffer for you.
- Speed range of 2000 – 5000 OPM
- 500 Watt motor
- 15 millimeter throw
- Electronic feedback control
- Orbit Diameter: 15mm
- Backing Plate: 125mm
- Spindle Thread: M8-F
- Weight: 5.51lbs
Maxshine M8S Dual Action/DA Polisher – Best Value
The Maxshine M8S is a great polisher for a beginner on a tight budget. It’s simple, extremely easy to use and gives great results.
The Maxshine M8S has a solid and powerful 900 Watt motor with a speed range of 2500 – 6500 RPM, which is definitely enough for any beginner. The motor is smooth but a bit noisy.
The body of the buffer is compact and feels sturdy. Maxshine M8S comes with an adjustable Bale handle. The RPM dial is located below the power cord, which makes it a bit difficult to adjust when using the buffer, but once you get used to it, it’s not a big problem.
Maxshine M8S comes with a 5” backing plate and a pair of replacement brushes for the motor.
The Maxshine M8S buffer is a solid tool for the price. It’s a bit noisy and the position of the RPM dial is annoying, but the Maxshine M8S will get the job done on medium cars and trucks without any hiccups. It’s definitely the best buffer if you’re just starting out and are on a tight budget.
- Heavy Duty 900W motor
- Speed range of 2500 – 6500 RPM
- D handle
- Orbit diameter: 8mm
- Spindle thread size: 5/16”-24
- Weight: 5lbs
There you go! These are the best polishers for a beginner, in my opinion.
I’ve chosen the best three since you’re probably tired of scrolling through all of them. So, no matter if you’re on a tight budget or have some money to spend on a quality machine – now you know what to chose.