The Best Car Buffer of 2018: Polish to Perfection!

Dec 6, 2018 | Detailing, Reviews

Every car owner wants to have the shiniest and the most expensive-looking car on the block. However, not everyone can afford to take their vehicle to the shop on a monthly or even weekly basis.

There are plenty of great buffers out there. It all depends on what you’re looking for, and what automotive skills you have, or don’t have.

If you know what you’re doing, then you don’t have to look for simple tools that cater to the needs of non-professional car detailers. But, if you want your car to look great, and you have never used a buffer before, you’ll need a tool that’s easy to operate.

So, how do you find the best car buffer? Let’s find out what sets these polishers apart from the rest.

The Best Car Buffer

NameTypeSpeed 

Porter-Cable

Random Orbit

2500 - 6800 OPM

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Dewalt

Rotary

0 - 3500 RPM

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Makita

Rotary

600 - 3000 RPM

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Griot's

Random Orbit

2500 - 6800 OPM

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Flex

Rotary / Random Orbit

3200 - 9600 OPM

Check Price

Porter-Cable

Type

Random Orbit

Speed

2500 – 6800 OPM

Check Price

Dewalt

Type

Rotary

Speed

0 – 3500 RPM

Check Price

Makita

Type

Rotary

Speed

600 – 3000 RPM

Check Price

Griot’s

Type

Random Orbit

Speed

2500 – 6800 OPM

Check Price

Flex

Type

Rotary / Random Orbit

Speed

3200 – 9600 OPM

Check Price

porter-cable variable speed polisher

1. Porter-Cable Variable-Speed Buffer

Our Rating

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The Porter-Cable is one of the most popular dual-speed polishers out there.

It is also our overall pick as the best car buffer, mainly because of it’s price to quality ratio. For people who are worried about damaging your vehicle, this buffer is also a great choice. It won’t burn off the paint or make any dents in your bodywork.

It comes with six-speed settings available and you can easily adjust the speed depending on how you want to polish your car.

The Porter-Cable also features a pre-installed counterweight that makes balancing a cinch. We should also consider how much pressure you put on your arm when you’re polishing your vehicle. This isn’t a problem with this tool, because it practically does all the work by itself.

Yet another great feature this tool has is a removable handle that can be adjusted in two positions. If you don’t want to use the handle, you can easily remove it.

However, this tool doesn’t have a hook-and-loop feature like other buffers. With that said you can use a hook-and-loop backing plate instead. Also, the package includes a pad, but we would suggest additional pads just in case.

Pros and cons

  • Affordable
  • Compact and Sturdy
  • Pre-installed counter-weight for balance
  • Removable handle
  • Easy to use
  • Six available speed settings
  • Doesn’t include a hook-and-loop feature
  • The pad can tend to rip
  • No backing plate included
DEWALT Variable Speed Polisher

2. Dewalt Variable Speed Polisher Machiner

Our Rating

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This tool is more powerful than the Porter-Cable and is a premium automotive care product. If you need a tool that can be used on other vehicles, for example, boats, the Dewalt is a great choice.

Although it’s a powerful machine, don’t worry, it’s quite easy to handle. Not only does it have a side handle, it also has a top handle for added stability. That way you can change positions with ease, whenever you need to. And since there is no load speed, you can jump right into polishing.

The Dewalt operates quite smoothly due to the heat-treated and precision-cut gears. If you want top quality shine, the Dewalt definitely won’t let you down.

However, you should be careful not to use the buffer on the plastic parts of your vehicle, or you might burn them. Also, you may have to purchase additional brushes and pads since they tend to wear down quite easily.

Pros and cons

  • Powerful, durable, and high-quality
  • Easy to handle
  • It can be used for detailing boats
  • Top and side handle options are available
  • Three-year warranty
  • Possible overheating if you’re not careful
  • A bit pricey
  • Can’t use it on plastic parts
  • A bit heavy
  • Pads and brushes provided don’t last long
makita 7 inch hook and loop electronic polisher

3. Makita Electronic Buffer Polisher

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Another very efficient option is the Makita electric polisher. It’s a very versatile tool and the best car buffer for multiple surfaces. It’s a standard tool that both automotive workers and marine workers use on a daily basis.

Makita generally manufactures high-quality power tools, and this 7-inch hook-and-loop buffer is no exception. The great thing about this tool is that it can be used for both polishing and sanding, and you won’t have any trouble quickly changing the functionality.

It practically allows you to do a variety of different chores, such as waxing, polishing, painting, compounding fiberglass, etc. You can use it on different surfaces as well since it works equally well on floors as it does on cars.

Also, you can adjust the speed depending on what surface you’re using the buffer on. You can even lock it on a specific speed if needed, which allows you to operate the tool quite smoothly. You’ll have a perfectly polished car in no time!

The Makita has a hook and a pad included, along with side handles. Additionally, you can use the loop handles for extra stability.

It’s a tool that you can use for hours without worrying about it overheating. More importantly, it’s lightweight, so you won’t get tired in the middle of polishing your vehicle. Overall, it’s a very effective tool that’s easy to handle.

Pros and cons

  • Lightweight
  • Smooth operation
  • Adjustable speed
  • Works on a variety of surfaces
  • Expensive
  • Only a 30-day return policy
  • Load speed of a couple seconds
griot's garage 6 inch dual action random orbital polisher

4. Griot’s Garage Dual Action Random Orbital Polisher

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Yet another great choice is Griot’s Garage polisher. The manufacturer’s ultimate goal was to make a buffer that was easy to handle for professionals and non-professionals alike. Which makes this the best car buffer for professional polishing on a budget.

The 6″ dual-action random orbital polisher comes with a 10’ cord. Also, Griot kept the adjustable handle and added a rubber grip for extra comfort. They’ve moved all the switches and knobs to more convenient places on the tool so they don’t get in the way.

The great thing about Griot’s buffer is that it also removes oxidation from your car. We all know that oxidation makes a car look much older than it actually is. But with Griot’s random orbital polisher, you won’t have to alter the color of your car in order to fix the oxidized areas. Your car will be shiny and polished in no time!

Pros and cons

  • Comfortable ergonomic design
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Adjustable loop handle
  • Rubber grip
  • Effectively removes oxidation
  • A bit more expensive
  • You may have to purchase an extension cord
Flex positive-drive rotary-orbital polisher

5. Flex Positive-Drive Rotary-Oribital Polisher

Our Rating

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Flex offers a dual action machine polisher that removes scratches, swirls, and a number of other imperfections like a pro!

The 8 mm rotation makes the buffer extra efficient, and the orbital rotation imitates the circular movement of your hand and produces a highly smooth surface. You don’t have to worry about it creating any holograms, that’s for sure!

Also, the counter-weight is a great feature, and it allows you to operate the tool easily. Another great safety feature is the automatic motor shut-down. Once the carbon brushes are worn down, the motor shuts off instantly, keeping your car from being damaged.

The Flex buffer also comes with a 13-foot cord, so you won’t need to purchase an extension.

While there are a number of positives for this tool, the biggest downside is the price. In some cases, it is twice as much as the other options. If you’re a professional and don’t mind spending money, this is the best car buffer for you.

Pros and cons

  • Perfect for temperature-sensitive paint
  • Easy to operate
  • Lightweight
  • Imitates the circular movement of your hand
  • Can tend to overheat quickly

What to Look for in a Car Buffer

using a polisher

Now that you’ve seen the best car buffers, you have a general idea of what to look for. Just to help you get an even better picture, here’s a brief guide that will hopefully clarify things a little more.

The Different Types of Car Buffers

If you’re not a professional car detailer, you probably didn’t know that there are different types of buffers. Let’s take a closer.

First of all, there are two common types of car buffers:

1. Orbital (the pad vibrates)
2. Rotary (the pad rotates)

Orbital

The orbital buffer is one of the more popular among amateur car detailers. That’s because orbital buffers are not only easy to use, but they give fantastic results.

These buffers distribute wax evenly over the car’s surface since the buffer turns at a high speed. Moreover, orbital buffers remove any damaged areas, as well as get rid of distinct marks on your car. In addition to being efficient, they are also very economical power tools. Ultimately, these high-speed buffers produce the best results, and in no time at all!

Rotary

The rotary buffer removes defects and sanding marks with ease and are rarely used to spread wax. Nevertheless, rotary buffers are better at fixing medium and heavy-duty paint imperfections in comparison to orbital buffers.

Professional car detailers tend to lean toward the rotary option.

Safety features

First things first; you don’t want to damage your car in any way. If you’re a professional car detailer, you can pick any buffer from the lot. But if you’re an amateur, you should check out the safety features of each model before making your final decision. You should look for a buffer with automatic motor shut-down options, so if the power tool heats up, it won’t cause any damage to the paint.

Size and weight

Don’t forget to check out the size and weight too. You want to purchase a lightweight option that’s easy to operate and won’t cause your arms to cramp up in the middle of the buffering process.

Conclusion

It’s safe to say that there are quite a few buffers to choose from. However, some are better for beginners, and others are meant to be used by professional car detailers.

The Porter-Cable variable-speed polisher and Griot’s Garage dual-action random orbital polisher are by far the best car buffers for beginners. You don’t have to be a pro to operate them, and you’ll have a beautifully polished vehicle each time.

If you’re a professional car detailer, the top choices for you are the Dewalt and the Flex positive-drive rotary-orbital polisher. The Dewalt may be a bit pricey, but it’s well worth the money.

Finally, the Makita hook-and-loop electronic polisher/sander is great for both beginners and professionals. It works wonders on a number of surfaces, which is possibly why it’s a bit more expensive.

All in all, these buffers are all top-notch, and you definitely won’t be disappointed with the results. No matter which one you choose, you’ll have the shiniest car on the block.

Richard Reed

Writer for TheVehicleLab.com

The Vehicle Lab

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