What is a Car Polishing Machine and do you need one?

Save time when carrying out car detailing

Looking after your car paint protection can be a quite a chore, but one job that gives a great amount of satisfaction and pleasure is that of the final polish. If people notice your car because it looks fantastic, knowing that you took the time and effort to keep it looking that way is satisfying and rewarding. With a combination of offsetting professional car detailing prices and ensuring your vehicle preserves as much value as possible, it can be a wise investment in time too.

Polishing by hand is of course a route many people are happy with, but to get a really good finish remove scratches from your car, swirls marks, oxidation and hazing, a powered tool makes for a much more professional finish, and will save you about half the time too.

Before you commence any car polishing regime, using a machine or by hand, it is vitally important that the car is washed and any contaminants that might otherwise cause scratches, be removed, there are plenty of detailed descriptions on Infobarrel and the internet at large.

So, let’s assume you enjoy keeping your car looking nice, but you it takes half the morning and you would like to save some time, what are your options?

Generally speaking there are two options: rotary polishers or dual action (also known as orbital) polishers.

Rotary polishers are often based on angle-grinders and sanders, however unlike these devices the polishing versions generally have a variable speed control. They can be heavy and the speed of the polishing action can, if used without care, damage or even “burn through” your paintwork, definitely not what you are looking to do! However, they can be useful if the paint is in particularly bad shape and you need to get deep into the paint layers with the cutting and polishing compounds.

Rotary polishers tend to be quite a bit cheaper than a good Dual Action Polisher, and can be used as sanders/cutters which can make them an attractive option, but take care and follow the instructions.

Dual Action Polishers

These have a more advanced mechanism than the rotary polishers, the polishing head moves in a elliptical motion, with pad “orbiting” around the central spindle, the main benefit of these – especially in novice or untrained hands is that they avoid or reducing the likelihood of damaging the paint or creating circular buffing marks. This makes it easier to create a really nice even shine, but they are less suited to polishing out deep marks or scratches, especially those you can feel with your finger tip.

Cheap car polishing machines

These are generally lightweight devices (3-4lbs) such as the Carrand 94000AS Automotive Polisher (pictured), the relatively small size of the pad makes it easy to get into small spaces. Carrand make a number of devices branded by other companies (such as Turtlewax) so be careful not to pay over the odds on something that should cost you less than $30.

These devices, by their very nature and probably not suitable to being used day in, day out on a fleet of cars, but could well be more than adequate for your needs if you only have one or two cars to wash, wax and polish once a week. The lack of weight, while an advantage in some cases does mean you can’t use the devices own mass to assist with applying pressure during the polishing process.

Larger polisher options

As discussed These tools are based on angle-grinders and disc cutters and so can be considerably heavy, a number, such as the Advanced Tool Design 7-Inch Polisher, have a modified handle allowing the user to hold and guide the polisher, allowing the weight of the tool to help apply pressure when polishing, with a little practice it will be possible to use these tools without undue strain, but at around 8lbs in weight these are over twice the weight, and of course twice the prices of the cheaper devices above.

A top of the range rotary model, such as one made by Makita comes complete with a variety of pads, handles and tools, as well as a smart and useful bag to carry it all in, so although appearing expensive can actually work out quite reasonable, especially if the pad last a long time and the machine is reliable.

If you really want to invest in your vehicle’s appearance, two of the most popular model available today are Meguiar’s Professional Dual Action Polisher , and the Porter-Cable 7424 6-Inch Variable Speed Random-Orbit Polisher , at a glance both machines are outwardly similar to a the angle-grinder based tools, but the dual action mechanism drives the polishing head in an orbital oscillating fashion making it easier to get a really deep shine.

A good kit will usually include a variety of grades of polishing pads or “bonnets”, as well as some polishing compound such as Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound (which always does well in car polish reviews) a guide and a bag to keep everything save and tidy. Pads can be cleaned and reused but invariably the very nature of polishing means the pads can wear out, depending on their quality, quite quickly.

Choosing between a rotary and an orbital polisher is largely a matter of personal preference, both will give a fantastic result and many professionals will swear allegiance to the simpler rotary machine, however for the beginner or infrequent user the orbital dual action devices are probably the tool of choice.

Do you need one? Well if you value your car, take pride in its appearance, yet like many of us are short on time then there is no doubting that they can be great timesaver.

Now that you have learned how to fix scratches on your car, polished the paintwork back to showroom condition remember to protect your beautiful vehicle with a high quality carnauba car wax and a synthetic sealant, applied well these will ensure the shine persists for a considerable time and provide added protection from the sun and elements, but remember to remove this layer thoroughly before polishing again.

As with any, potentially expensive purchase, check out both car polishing machine reviews and car wax reviews on sites such as Amazon.