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Published Sep. 29, 2021

Whether you’re a diehard devotee of the sacred weekend car wash ritual, or you’re racking up the frequent flyer points at your local drive-thru car wash, chances are, that even though you wash your vehicle regularly, you’re probably not buffing and polishing it as often as you should. A regular buff and polish is vital to keeping your car’s paint and exterior in tip-top condition. It helps remove stubborn stains and wipe away small scratches before they become a bigger problem. If you’re in the market for a reliable and high-quality car buffer and polisher, take a quick read through our comprehensive product review and our informative buying guide. It will have you buffing like a pro in no time.

Best Car Buffers Reviews And Recommendations

Porter-Cable was one of the first companies to launch a commercial polisher and since then, it has sent its products to nearly every professional wrench and at-home mechanic. The Porter-Cable 7424 is one of the brand’s latest innovations, featuring a 4.5-amp motor and the random orbital action, it’s designed for sanding off any swirls or stains on your car.

The sturdy ball-bearing function adds to the durability of the buffer, and the machine operates at speeds between 2,500 and 6,800 RPMs, making it one of the most powerful buffers on the market. Using the trigger, you can adjust how fast or slow you want to buff and the machine can be used on a variety of surfaces. And it’s ambidextrous. One drawback is that this is one of the noisiest operating buffers on our list.

Specs
  • Brand Porter-Cable
  • Model 7424XP
  • Weight 5.75 pounds
PROS

Ambidextrous

Compatible with a variety of surfaces

Variable speeds

Durable construction

CONS

No backing plate

Functions loudly

The Wen 6010 6-Inch Waxer-Polisher is the way to go if you’re looking for a reliable, budget-friendly choice. The high-performance 120V, 0.5-amp permanent magnet motor is designed for heavy duty waxing and polishing, and works on a variety of surfaces including cars, tiles, kitchens, among others. It works at a constant speed of 4,000 rpm and offers a dual grip for ambidextrous working.

There’s also no need to hold down the button as you can simply lock it in place for continuous workflow. The random orbital technology ensures your car shines without leaving behind any streaks or swirls and with each unit, an applicator and terry cloth come with it. One drawback to this compact unit is that there’s really no way to set it down without getting dirt on the polisher, and the set speed might not be the best for your application.

Specs
  • Brand Wen
  • Model 6010
  • Weight 3.35 pounds
PROS

Ambidextrous

Affordable

Can be used on a variety of surfaces

CONS

Power of the motor is a bit low

No variable speeds

No way to set it down without getting it dirty

DeWalt is a well-known name when it comes to developing rugged tools and the company’s 7-Inch/9-Inch Variable Speed Car Buffer is no exception. Designed with auto professionals and amateur car enthusiasts in mind, it boasts a powerful 12-amp motor and features a unique Controlled Finishing System that performs a Soft Start operation. Controlling your speeds through the trigger, the buffer gives you anywhere between 600 to 3,500 rpm, for the optimum speed.

This model also features a Wool Ingestion Shield that eliminates any wool accumulation and increases the life of the tool. The total weight of the buffer is 6.7 lbs, which makes it somewhat heavy. Additionally, it features a Non Mar Rubber Gear Case that reduces the strain on your grip while working. This buffer is a little on the pricey side, though it can be a great investment as it should last you for years to come.

Specs
  • Brand DeWalt
  • Model DWP849X
  • Weight 6.7 pounds
PROS

Soft

Start Can be used on a variety of surfaces

Precision-cut steel gears make it smooth to operate

Comfort handle

CONS

Heavy

Pricey

The Black & Decker WP900 is a polisher designed to handle both heavy-duty and amateur jobs. The random orbital action is designed for removing annoying stains and scratches from the surface of the car without leaving behind streaks or swirls. This model features two ergonomically placed handles with rubber grips to allow comfortable detailing without losing your grip, too.

The machine works at one speed of 4,500 RPMs, which may limit your use in certain aspects, but the constant speed allows for uniform buffing work. Also included is a 10-foot cord that’s meant for working around larger vehicles. An application bonnet, as well as two polishing bonnets, are also included and this buffer can be your savior if you wish to tackle larger cars or trucks. One issue with this otherwise well-designed buffer is that the pads don’t stick to it as well as with some other options. Consider adding Velcro backing to help pads adhere more securely.

Specs
  • Brand Black & Decker
  • Model WP900
  • Weight 2.05 pounds
PROS

Well-suited for large cars and trucks

Compatible with a variety of surfaces

Random orbital motion prevents any swirling

CONS

Doesn’t work at a variable speed

Doesn’t feature a wool shield

Buffing pads don’t adhere as well as on some other units

Meguiar’s G3500 DA Power System Tool is designed for those that don’t have the money for a single-use buffer like those above and below. Instead, this buffer attaches to the drill you already own. Given your drill’s limitations, this option is great for small jobs and for those enthusiasts who are just getting into detailing their own rides. It can be used for a variety of surfaces.

Part of the system is designed to remove any stains, streaks, or swirls left behind by previous waxes, as well as oxidation and other defects on your car by using the supplied compounding power pads. The rub is that this buffer is not the greatest for larger jobs since it lacks the rpm power of some bigger buffers and the pads also tend to come loose easily.

Specs
  • Brand Meguiar’s
  • Model G3500
  • Weight 1.32 pounds
PROS

Lightweight and easy to use

Can be attached to any household drill

Great for beginners

CONS

It requires a drill to use

The pads are not durable and might need replacing

Pads don’t adhere well and can be annoying to deal with

How We Selected Car Buffers and Polishers

Since there are dozens upon dozens of viable car buffers and polishers on the market, we narrowed down your choices by only going with well-known and highly-regarded manufacturers. We stuck with companies that have been producing reliable automotive detailing equipment for years and have thousands of satisfied customers. We wanted to offer a diverse selection of car buffers, versus just sticking with one type, since there are so many different options available. For pricing strategy, we also wanted to offer a wide range to suit any budget, from being extremely price-conscious to the upper end of the spectrum.

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For

With such a wide variety of car buffers and polishers to choose from, how do you know which one will be best suited to your specific needs? Are you a recent auto detailing enthusiast or a seasoned pro? Do you want cordless or corded? Is it more important to have a buffer that’s lightweight and user-friendly or do you want something more powerful and heavy-duty? Our buying guide will have you purchasing with confidence. 

Features to Look for in a Car Buffer or Polisher

Speed

One of the top factors in choosing an excellent car buffer or polisher is the speed at which it rotates. The higher the speed, the better able the polisher is to get at deeper scratches. Variable speeds offer you many more options for applying wax, polishes, or buffing than just a single speed. However, be aware that higher speeds can lead to greater heat and friction. If you’re a beginner, we recommend starting out with a lightweight, single speed buffer until you’re more comfortable and familiar with it.

Weight

The weight of your buffer or polisher is also a prime factor in how successful you’ll be at using it properly. If your polisher is too heavy, you will fatigue too quickly and end up applying wax unevenly, making the job look sloppy. If your polisher is too light, you may find that it vibrates too much during use, which can also lead to fatigue and frustration. So consider getting a weight that you’ll be comfortable holding for 20-30 minutes at a time.

Price 

For many consumers, the cost of something can be the main driving factor. While we recommend staying comfortably within your budget, some of the least expensive models we recommended above are also the best performing, so don’t worry too much about sacrificing performance for price if you’re buying from a reputable manufacturer.

Hand Control 

Since you might take some time doing the job, you should ensure you are comfortable in doing so. A dual handle will serve you best as you can hold the machine with both hands. Ensure the grip is secure as well as a poor grip could lead to inaccurate results.

Type 

Buffers are usually either rotational or random orbital. We recommend buying the random orbital type as they eliminate all defects while preventing any swirling or streaking.

Tips When Using Car Buffers and Polishers

  • Do not mix buffing pads as when you have used one with a specific compound, do not use it for another.
  • Use an RPM of 2,000-2,500 for heavy cutting with wool pads and 1,600-1,800 for light cutting. For foam pads, use 1,100-1,300 rpm.
  • Do not buff away at one place for too long as this might end up harming your car’s surface.
  • Use a spur or a pad brush to clean your buffing pads from time to time.
  • Do not apply the compound to the buff pad, instead apply it to the car and then buff away for optimal results.
  • Ensure your buffing pad never touches the ground or it will accumulate grime or dirt which is hard to remove.

FAQs

Car Bibles is here to answer all your burning questions.

Q. What’s the difference between a polisher and a buffer?

While the mechanism is essentially the same, the abrasive compounds used for each are different. Polishers have their abrasives, which are more cutting than buffing abrasives, attached to the device. While buffing requires the abrasive applied to the car’s paint and the abrasive isn’t as hard.

Q. What’s the difference between hand-buffing and mechanical-buffing?

Time spent in the garage or driveway.

Q.  How many times a year should I buff my car?

Most detailing experts go by the twice a year rule, that way you don’t damage your car’s paint.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to the ideal combination of power, reliability, durability, and price, it’s hard to beat the Porter-Cable 7424XP 6-Inch Variable-Speed Buffer. It’s an ultra-powerful 4.5 amp buffer that features variable speeds of 2,500-6,800 RPM, making it a favorite of pros and DIY enthusiasts.

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