The Best Car Buffers of 2018: The Perfect Shine!

Sep 26, 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. Luckily, we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to depend on professionals to make your car look like a million bucks.

There are plenty of great car 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 car buffers that cater to the needs of non-professional car detailers. But, if you want your car to look great, but you have never used a car buffer before, you’ll need a tool that’s easy to operate.

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

Top 5 Car Buffers

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

Check Price

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

1. Best Overall

Porter-Cable Variable-Speed Polisher

Our Rating

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The first buffer on our list is the Porter-Cable 6-inch polisher. It’s the most popular dual-speed polisher on the market. Looking through the reviews, we found very little negative feedback.

The Porter-Cable is the perfect buffer for beginners, mostly because it operates at 425.5 watts. For those of you who are worried about damaging your car, this buffer is a great choice. It won’t burn off the paint or make any dents in the bodywork.

This buffer comes with six-speed settings available. 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. Let’s not forget how much pressure you need to put on your arm when you’re polishing your car. This isn’t a problem with this polisher, because it practically does all the work itself.

However, this buffer doesn’t have a hook-and-loop feature like other buffers. Luckily, you can use a hook-and-loop backing plate instead. Also, the package includes a pad, but you may have to purchase additional pads just in case.

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.

All in all, this buffer is perfect for non-professionals. You’ll be able to polish your car without a professional skill set.

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 tends to rip after a few hours and needs to be replaced
  • No backing plate included

2. Best Value

Dewalt Variable Speed Polisher

Our Rating

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The next buffer on our list is the Dewalt variable speed polisher. This tool is more powerful than the Porter-Cable and is a premium automotive care product. If you need a buffer that can be used on other vehicles, for example, on boats, the Dewalt is perfect for that too.

Although it’s a powerful machine, don’t worry, it’s quite easy to handle. Not only does it have a side handle, but it also has a top handle you can use. 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 your car.

The Dewalt buffer operates quite smoothly due to the heat-treated and precision-cut gears. It’s a high-quality buffer that will last you many years. 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 easily.

All in all, if you’re a beginner, the Dewalt may be too difficult for you to handle right away.

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

3. Best for Beginners

Makita Electronic Buffer

Our Rating

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Another very efficient buffer is the Makita electric polisher/sander. It’s a very versatile tool that can be used for polishing a number of different 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
  • Offers polishing and sanding options
  • Smooth operation
  • Adjustable speed
  • Works on floors, walls, vehicles, boats, etc.
  • Expensive
  • Only a 30-day return policy
  • Load speed of a couple seconds

4. Best on a Budget

Griot’s Garage Dual Action Random Orbital Polisher

Our Rating

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Yet another great car buffer for beginners 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.

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 power tool is that it also removes oxidation from your car. We all know that oxidation makes a car look much older and worn-out 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!

As we’ve mentioned before, this buffer is great for beginners. So, if you’d like to shine your car once in a while, you should definitely consider purchasing Griot’s 6″ dual action random orbital polisher. However, if you’re in the car detailing business, you’d be better off looking for another, more professional car buffer.

Pros and cons

  • Comfortable ergonomic design
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Adjustable loop handle
  • Rubber grip
  • Effectively removes oxidation
  • A bit more expensive, considering it’s for beginners
  • You may have to purchase an extension cord

5. Best Professional Option

Flex Positive-Drive Rotary-Oribital Polisher

Our Rating

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Last but not least is the Flex rotary-orbital polisher. This power tool is 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 extra 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 comes with a 13-foot cord, so you won’t need to purchase an extension.

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

Now that you’ve seen what the top car buffers are, 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 car buffers. No worries, we’re here to explain what types exist and what they do.

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

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

Orbital Car Buffers

The orbital car buffer is one of the more popular buffers 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 Car Buffers

The rotary car buffer removes defects and sanding marks with ease. These buffers are rarely used to spread wax. Regardless of that, rotary buffers are better at fixing medium and heavy-duty paint imperfections than orbital buffers.

Also, for professional car detailers, rotary car buffers are an essential power tool.

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 buffer 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 car buffers to choose from. All in all, each of the entries on our list is considered a top-quality option. They’re all safe; 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 power tools 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 variable speed polisher 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 various types of surfaces, which is possibly why it’s a bit more expensive.

All in all, these car polishers are all top-notch, and you definitely won’t be disappointed with the results, no matter which buffer you choose. You’ll have the shiniest car on the block for sure!

Richard Reed

Writer for TheVehicleLab.com

The Vehicle Lab

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