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Published Dec. 29, 2020

You could spend hours washing, waxing, and polishing your car. It could take all day, and by the time you’re done, your body aches. Why not take a tip from the professionals and start using the tools that they use? An orbital polisher can give you the power and muscle you need to really make your car’s paint shine. 

However, not all polishers are built the same, and not all polishers will give you the same results. You need to find one that will work with the product you want to apply to your vehicle. It also needs to be comfortable to hold in your hands and work with your vehicle’s size. This guide will help you know what to look for when shopping for your orbital polisher.

You’ll enjoy using this polisher, thanks to how easy it is to control. It has a removable side handle that you can flip from the left or right side. The polishing pad is 6 inches in diameter, making it large enough for quick work yet small enough for intricate parts. The 4.5-amp motor ranges from 2,500 to 6,800 orbits per minute for precise speed control. The pad moves in a random orbit pattern for thorough coverage and user-friendly function. 

The downside of this polisher is that it isn’t clear what the RPMs are when adjusting the speed setting. You may also find it hard to cold start. However, once you get the hang of starting it, you will have no problems.

Key Features
  • Random-orbit
  • 2,500-6,800 OPM
  • 6-inch pad
  • 4.5 amp motor
Specification
  • Brand Porter-Cable
  • Model 7424XP
  • Weight 5.75 pounds
PROS

Proprietary counterbalance

5/16 to 24 spindle thread accessories

Two-position removable handle

CONS

Not clear which setting corresponds with each RPM level

Hard starting

Limited compatible pads

Make quick work of polishing your car with this large 10-inch pad plate. This polisher is compact with a stout round handle on the top. The sides have finger shaping to give you a better and more comfortable grip. The 120v motor can produce 3,600 RPMs. There’s a switch on the top to control the power. Included with your polisher is a three-layer foam pad with a moisture barrier. It also has a microfiber bonnet. This polisher stands out because it’s compact, easy to use, and has a large polishing pad. 

Unfortunately, the pad isn’t durable, but many people want to use their own pad anyway. Some people may also find the handle awkward to hold and the power button hard to reach while holding the polisher.

Key Features
  • 10-inch pad
  • 3600 RPMs
  • 120V motor
  • Top mount on/off switch
Specification
  • Brand AutoSpa
  • Model 94001AS
  • Weight 5 pounds
PROS

Three-layer foam pad

Microfiber removal bonnet

Compact

CONS

Awkward handle placement

Hard to work power button

Pad not durable

This polisher comes in a kit of nine items that includes the polisher, three pads, and four bottles of polish. The motor that powers this polisher is 120v and 700 watts. It’s capable of producing 2,800 to 7,800 RPMs. This polisher stands out because it can effectively polish and remove scratches, swirls, and defects. The heavy-duty construction of this polisher makes it strong and durable for long-term use. You’ll find this polisher easy to use.

The potential drawback of this kit is that the polisher can vibrate on low-speed settings. The pad for this polisher is also smaller than other polishers on this list. You may also find that the power switch is in an awkward place.

Key Features
  • 700 watt
  • 120V
  • Streamlined controls
  • 2,800-7,800 RPMs
Specification
  • Brand Torq
  • Model BUF503X
  • Weight 8.6 pounds
PROS

Removes swirls, scratches, and defects

Heavy-duty construction

Easy-to-use

CONS

Vibrates on low-speed settings

Awkward switch placement

Small pad size

This orbital polisher has a large orbit throw. The pad plate will move in a broader circle to create the least amount of friction and heat during use, making it beginner-friendly. It has an adjustable speed from 2,000 to 4,800 RPMs, which is a nice range for most car owners. There are several accessories included, including a tote bag and three pads. Throughout the polisher, several features make using it more comfortable, including a rubberized grip, trigger lock, and head grip. 

Unfortunately, there is no user manual included with this polisher. However, this may not be a big deal for those who have experience with using polishers. Another issue with this polisher is that it may be unbalanced or vibrate during use.

Key Features
  • 900 watt
  • 2,000-4,800 RPMs
  • 6.5-inch pad plate
  • 21mm long-throw orbit
Specification
  • Brand Zotaweld
  • Model RP15021-5
  • Weight 8.17 pounds
PROS

Three pads included

Tote bag included

Rubberized grip

CONS

No user manual included

Unbalanced

Vibrates

This dual-action polisher comes with two handles for you to choose from: there’s a D-shaped handle on the top and a handlebar style that’s mounted on the side. The motor is a 7.5-amp and 900 watts that can achieve 2,000 to 6,400 RPMs. Your arms will appreciate this orbital polisher’s lighter weight of 5.7 pounds. Combine this with the compact size, and you have an easy-to-use design. There are also five pads included, which makes using your polisher right out of the box easy. 

The downside of this polisher is that it tends to vibrate a lot. It’s also quite loud when compared to other polishers. Be aware that if you push too hard, it will stop spinning. However, this is typical of orbital style polishers.

Key Features
  • 7.5-amp and 900-watt motor
  • 2000-6400 RPMs
  • Weighs 5.7 pounds
  • Six variable speeds
Specification
  • Brand Topvork
  • Model 12333
  • Weight 7.56 pounds
PROS

Compact size

Two handles

Five pads included

CONS

Doesn’t spin under load

Loud while operating

Vibrates a lot

Have complete control when using this dual-action orbital polisher. There’s a large D-shaped handle on the top and a removable side handlebar. There are two packing plates included with this polisher: one is 5 inches, and the other is 6 inches. Powering this polisher is a motor that can achieve 1,500-6,400 orbits per minute. This polisher also comes with a durable tote bag that can hold everything. 

One drawback of this polisher is that it’s very sensitive to pressure, causing it to stop spinning if you push slightly too hard on your car while polishing. However, this can be a good thing, as it ensures you don’t accidentally damage your vehicle. The pards aren’t that durable, so you’ll want to choose your own pads to use with it.

Key Features
  • Dual-action orbital
  • 5- and 6-inch backing plates
  • Six level variable speed
  • 1500-6400 orbits per minute
Specification
  • Brand Tacklife
  • Model PPGJ04A
  • Weight 7.26 pounds
PROS

Four foam pads

Tool bag

Front-mounted on/off switch

CONS

Overly sensitive to pressure

Pads not durable

Vibrates

If you’re new to owning a polisher, this is a basic one that’s perfect for getting started. It’s a dual-action random orbital design. You can adjust the speed from 1,500-6,800 RPMs. There’s a 6-inch pad plate and three included foam pads. What makes this polisher stand out is the rubberized body, ergonomic design, and easy to operate controls. The large D-shaped handle on the top of the polisher is adjustable into three positions, letting you choose the most comfortable position for the job. 

Unfortunately, the power is weak, and while it achieves high RPMs, it isn’t as strong as other polishers. This polisher also vibrates at higher speeds. You may also find that the pads aren’t very durable.

Key Features
  • Dual-action random orbital
  • 6-inch pad plate
  • 1,500-6,800 RPMs
  • Three polishing pads
Specification
  • Brand Avid Power
  • Model AEP127
  • Weight 6.82 pounds
PROS

Rubberized body

Ergonomic design

Easy to operate

CONS

Motor is weak

Vibrates at higher speeds

Pads not durable

If you’re looking for a simple-to-use, beginner-friendly polisher, then you can’t go wrong with this product. It has a simple on/off switch that’s conveniently located on the handle. It’s constructed from a rugged, heavy-duty design that will give you plenty of years of service. The pad plate is an impressive 10 inches, giving you plenty of coverage and make quick work of polishing your car. There are also replacement pads available. 

One drawback of this polisher is that it doesn’t have variable speeds, which can limit how you use it. The handles are large but not cushioned or shaped to fit your hands. The power cable is also short, making it harder to keep the plug from hitting your car.

Key Features
  • Heavy-duty orbital buffer
  • 10 inches
  • 3,200 RPMs
  • Convenient power button
Specification
  • Brand Pro-Lift
  • Model I-4510
  • Weight 4.64 pounds
PROS

Replaceable buffer pads available

Dual large handles

Adds Extra shine

CONS

No variable speeds

Short power cord

Not ergonomic

This heavy-duty polisher comes from DeWalt, one of the most trusted names in hand tools. It can fit pads that are 7 or 9 inches in diameter. Powering the polisher is a 12-amp motor that can achieve 600 to 3,500 RPMs. What’s nice about this polisher is that it has the power you need but is also lightweight at 6.7 pounds. This polisher stands out thanks to the wool ingestion shield that prevents your wool pad from getting caught up in the polisher’s mechanisms. It also has a three-position bale handle for greater control. 

One downside of this polisher is that the speed control can malfunction, which results in it getting stuck at one speed. The button placement also isn’t the best, and you can accidentally hit them while polishing.

Key Features
  • 12-amp motor
  • 600-3500 RPMs
  • Spindle Thread: 5/8 inches
Specification
  • Brand DeWalt
  • Model DWP849X
  • Weight 6.7 pounds
PROS

Wool ingestion shield

7 and 9-inch pad plate

Three-position bale handle

CONS

Speed control can malfunction

Poor button placement

Handle doesn’t feel secure

This orbital polisher can do it all. It comes with two handles, a large D-shaped handle on the top, and an optional side handlebar. The motor can achieve 1,000-3,000 RPMs, and there are six-speed settings to choose from. There’s a switch lock to prevent accidental hitting of the power button while working the polisher. What’s nice about this kit is that it comes with two pad plates: a 6- and 7-inch plate. It also comes with 10 sandpapers, three foam pads, and a wool buffing pad. 

This polisher’s drawback is that it doesn’t have as powerful of a motor as other polishers on this list. It also isn’t very steady when at its higher speeds. The speed setting also resets when the trigger is released.

Key Features
  • 1000-3000 RPMs
  • Six variable speeds
  • Side handle and a D-handle
  • Switch lock design
Specification
  • Brand Tacklife
  • Model PPGJ01A
  • Weight 8.88 pounds
PROS

Two pad plate sizes

10 sandpapers included

Sponge and wool pads included

CONS

Speed control not steady

Polishing pads not durable

Speed resets on trigger release

Best Orbital Polishers Buying Guide & FAQ

Buying an orbital polisher is about making it easier and quicker to care for your car. But you can only do this when you buy a high-quality polisher. You need one that’s reliable that can work with the products you intend to use with it. 

This guide will help you understand the different types of orbital polishers. It will also outline the features you should look out for, while highlighting some of the available high-quality polishers in the market today. 

Benefits of Orbital Polishers

The benefit of using an orbital polisher is that your car’s finish is going to get a sparkle that you just can’t achieve when applying wax and polishers by hand. An orbital polisher is safe for all car owners—experienced and beginners alike to use. Use it to remove marks, swirl marks, scratches, and hard water spots. 

A polisher can also help you achieve a more even application to ensure you have better results. Your car’s surface will have a more even look since there’s a reduced risk of missing a spot. An orbital polisher is also more effective at removing swirl marks and scratches.

Finally, a polisher reduces the amount of physical effort you have to exert. Applying wax and polishers by hand requires you to rub in a circular motion across the entire surface of your vehicle. A polisher takes this away and just has you holding your polisher as it does the circular work.

  • Safe to use for all experience levels 
  • Better and more even application of the product
  • Less physical effort

Popular Types of Orbital Polishers

polishing a car using the best orbital polisher
Polishing the surface of the car using an orbital polisher

There are several types of orbital polishers. They are classified by how the pad moves since that will affect a polisher’s performance and ability to polish your vehicle. When choosing the type that’s best for you, consider your skill level and intended application. 

Standard

This is the most popular and most common type of polisher. It moves in a  circular motion, but the pad doesn’t spin. This simple movement makes it easy to control and beginner-friendly. However, this type of polisher doesn’t have the same speed, power, and strength that the other types have. 

The advantage of this type is that it’s inexpensive, easy to use, and readily available. The downside is that they aren’t as powerful, can’t perform paint corrections, and have limited applications. This makes them ideal for the car owner who occasionally waxes their car. 

Random

This type of polisher is a mix between a standard and a rotary polisher. The pad spins while also moving in a circular motion, making the movement random since the spinning momentum creates it. It gets its name from this random movement. Several factors can affect their movements, such as pad size, pad grip, and stroke length. 

This polisher’s dual movement gives you additional strength while also being easy to control, making it a great learning polisher for when you’re ready for a step up from the standard but not prepared to take on the rotary. 

Rotary

This type of polisher is the most powerful and considered to be of professional quality. They are best for those with experience as they are the most difficult to control. The pad only spins, which creates the most friction and heat and increases the risk of damage to your paint. 

The advantage of this style is that it has the best ability to cut through the contaminants. It’s the strongest polisher and able to fix scratches and swirl marks. You’ll find that these polishers are the most durable and use the best quality materials because they’re designed for heavy professional use. 

What to Look for When Buying an Orbital Polisher

When testing polishers, create uniform testing conditions. Try them all on one car so you can compare how they apply products and the improvement they make to that vehicle’s paint finish. 

When using each polisher, consider how easy they are to work. Then consider how comfortable they are to hold and how heavy they feel in your hands. Do they distribute the product well? 

Once finished, look at how the car’s paint looks. Is there an even application? How well did the polisher remove blemishes and minor scratches? The polisher that comes out on top is the combination of easy to use and effective as polishing. 

The Most Important Features of an Orbital Polisher

using orbital polisher to polish a car
The right orbital polisher will make any detailing job easier

The most important features to consider when comparing orbital polishers are speed, size, and weight. Finding the right combination of these will ensure you have a high-quality finish. It’ll also be easier to use, which will make you want to use it more often, and thus, care for your car’s finish better. 

Size

There are two sizes to consider when comparing polishers. The first is the overall size of the polisher. If it’s too big, you may need more than one hand to maneuver it into position. Larger polishers can also be harder to move around your vehicle. 

The second size feature to consider is the size of the pad plate, which is the platform that the pad attaches to. The larger the head, the more area you can cover at a time, allowing you to work faster. However, a smaller polisher head may be better for smaller areas, such as around the grille. 

Speed

The ideal speed for your polisher is between 2,000 and 4,000 RPMs. This is important because the faster your polisher spins, the more even an application you’ll achieve. A faster speed will also let you work more quickly, so you can complete an entire vehicle polishing in less time.

If you aren’t experienced, you may not want to buy the most powerful and fastest polisher you can find. The increased speed also means increased heat and friction. This means you’ll need to use greater care when using it. With practice and following the manufacturer’s directions, you can achieve a beautiful finish on your vehicle. 

Weight

You’ll use your polisher while crouching down, reaching out and away to do the hood and trunk, and lifting above your head for taller vehicles and the roof. A heavy polisher will be tiring on your arms and shoulders,  defeating the purpose of using a polisher to reduce the strain on your body. 

Smaller and more lightweight polishers are easier to maneuver and won’t exhaust you. A smaller polisher is also useful when you have a smaller space to work in, as you’ll be able to maneuver it around to all of the spaces you need to get to. 

Care and Maintenance for Orbital Polishers

Taking care of your tools ensures they stay in proper working order, helping you achieve the best results, and making it easier to use.

Remove the pad and clean the ones that you’ve used. You’ll also want to store them in a clean place to keep them soft, pliable, and clean for their next use. Take a look at your polish and give it a clean. Remove any excess polishing products that may have ended up on the tool.

Finally, always store your polisher in a clean, dry location. Never leave it outside for an extended time to prevent corrosion of the electrical and metal elements. 

  • Remove and clean your pads. 
  • Store in a dry place. 
  • Remove excess compounds from the machine. 

Best Orbital Polishers FAQs:

There are so many tools that look similar but have different names. It can get confusing figuring out which one is safe to use on your car. Sometimes, a tool that’s meant for one task can actually be converted to do another. This can save you time, money, and space as your one tool multi-tasks.

Q: Can you use a random orbital sander for car polishing?

Yes, you can use a random orbital sander to polish your car. The orbital action helps keep your paint safe and makes it easier to use. 

Q: What is the difference between a dual-action polisher and a random orbital polisher?

They are the same. Both have a free rotating spindle. 

Q: Is a buffer the same as a polisher?

Yes, a buffer and a polisher are the same things, and both buff your car.

Our Top Pick

Our top pick for the best orbital polisher is the Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher. It has a 4.5 amp motor that powers a 6-inch pad at 2,500-6,800 OPM. The random orbital movement uses a proprietary counterbalance function that makes it easier to control with the two-position handle for quality results. 

Final Thoughts

You can’t go wrong with the easy-to-control Porter-Cable Variable Speed Polisher with its counterbalancing and wide speed range. For a more affordable option, the AutoSpa Random Orbital Polisher won’t let you down with its large polishing pad and compact size.

Sources:

  1. 3 Ways to Buff a Car – Wikipedia

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