What Are The Best Car Buffers and Polishers? (2019)
You want your car to have a healthy shine, and that means you’ll need to spend some time buffing up and polishing your vehicle’s body. Rather than buffing up your hotrod manually, you’re probably interested in finding a mechanized solution.
Power buffers and polishers are difficult to differentiate, however. Many buffers and polishers have weak motors which will break or leave you spending time trying to buff out simple tarnishing.
In this article, we’ll teach you all about the best automated car buffers and polishers so that you’ll be a discerning buyer — and so you won’t get tired out by spending all your time trying to polish your car.
Quick Picks: See 3 of Our Favorite Choices
- Buffer And Polisher Reviews
- Best Overall – Chemical Guys BUF_209X Complete Detailing Kit
- Best Cheap Option – TCP Global 7″ Professional High Performance Variable Speed Polisher
- Best Value – BLACK+DECKER Variable Speed Polisher
- Honorable Mention – WEN 10PMC 10-Inch Waxer/Polisher
- Honorable Mention – Avid Power Polisher, 6” Random Orbital Waxer/Buffer Kit with Dual-Action, Variable Speed
- Factors to Consider When Choosing A Buffer Or Polisher
- Rotation Speed
- Cord Length
- Engine Build Quality
- Ease of Swapping Pucks
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What’s the proper technique for using a car polisher?
- Are there any brands of car polisher that are better or worse than the others?
- What type of puck should I be using?
- Which chemicals should I be using to polish my vehicle?
- How durable are car buffers?
- Polishing Up
Buffer And Polisher Reviews
In this section, we’ll roundup five of our top picks for car buffers and polishers. We’ll cover our pick for the very best buffer, our selection for the best cheap option, and a few other buffers which we think you should know about if you’re in the market.
Best Overall – Chemical Guys BUF_209X Complete Detailing Kit
The Chemical Guys are well known for their car cleaning products, and with this comprehensive detailing kit, you’ll be ready to provide your car with a crystal shine.
- Includes multiple shammies and sponges
- 8mm dual action orbital throw polisher for rapid action
- Includes multifunctional polishing chemical that works on things that aren’t cars too
- May include things that you don’t need
This comprehensive detailing kit has every odd and end that you’ll need, but the centerpiece is the polisher itself. The polisher is ergonomically friendly, lightweight, high-power, and durable. You won’t need to worry about the engine giving out after a few buff jobs.
The polisher’s orbit speed is adjustable from 1200 to 4200 orbits per minute. As a result, you can polish sensitive areas or the body of your car with the proper application of buffing force.
As you use the polisher, you’ll see the shine appearing in real-time. Aside from being very effective, you’ll find that it’s very satisfying to see.
The only issue with this set is that it includes a lot of chemicals and equipment which you might not need.
Best Cheap Option – TCP Global 7″ Professional High Performance Variable Speed Polisher
When you need a no-frills attached polisher that is ready to work right outside of the box, this TCP Global polisher is a bargain buy.
- Includes six replacement waffles
- Great for breaking into coatings of heavy oxidation
- Runs cool
- Handle may be flimsy
- Weak instruction set
For a cheap car polisher, this unit has a lot of power. You can select speeds from 1000 to 3000 rpm. While these speeds aren’t as high as luxury polishers, they’re more than sufficient for most of your polishing needs.
Furthermore, the kit includes a high quality wool buffing pad which you’ll find is extremely useful as a workhorse polishing waffle.
For the caked deposits of oxidation, you can use a more caustic waffle. But, you’ll need to find it yourself. This set doesn’t include a super-harsh waffle or any cleaning fluids even if it has the engine power to make use of them.
The main issue that you’ll encounter with this polisher is that the black handle on top of the unit has a tendency to pop out of its socket if you are using the device at an awkward angle.
In other words, you’ll need to be careful about how you hold the polisher to ensure that it doesn’t have an issue.
Best Value – BLACK+DECKER Variable Speed Polisher
With its rotund appearance and high speed but without a high price tag, this Black and Decker wins our award for best value polisher.
- High maximum speed
- Extra long cord
- Only weighs 5 pounds
- Engine isn’t as durable as with other units
- Few applicators included
This polisher runs at a constant 4400 orbits per minute, which is very high. Unfortunately, you can’t adjust the rate of orbiting, so you may find that this polisher uses more energy than is warranted for a specific polishing job.
On the other hand, it’s nearly impossible to find a similar polisher which has as high of a rate of orbiting for twice the price of this unit. The high speed nature of this polisher has a downside, however.
The engine isn’t very durable on this polisher in comparison to others on the market, which is most likely how Black and Decker can afford to sell it at such a low price. The warranty will protect you for a year, but overall you shouldn’t expect this polisher to last too long.
On the bright side, the power of this unit means that you can work out the tarnishes in your vehicle’s polish with minimal effort. The polisher is lightweight and easy to grip, so you won’t feel your arms getting tired after a long polishing session.
Honorable Mention – WEN 10PMC 10-Inch Waxer/Polisher
The WEN 10PMC waxer and polisher is heavy, but highly durable and extremely versatile if you can handle its ergonomics.
- Ambidextrous use
- High build quality
- Includes hard-shell storage crate
- Very heavy
- Difficult to work into small spaces
The build quality of this polisher is extremely high, which means that you can rely on the moderately powered engine to cover your polishing needs for the foreseeable future.
While it isn’t a major factor that you should look for when you’re trying to find a polisher, a nice feature which this polisher has is that it’s ambidextrous. The majority of polishers are made to be used by right-handed people who can stabilize the polisher with their left hand.
So, ambidextrous construction means that you won’t need to contort yourself or feel awkward when you’re buffing.
The issue that most people will face with this polisher is that it is large and heavy. Furthermore, it’s difficult to maneuver the large puck into tight spaces when you’re polishing up a vehicle with a lot of contours.
These two factors mean that you will need to be stronger than average and also more persistent when you’re buffing. But, if you’re hunting for a bargain and you’re eager to find an ambidextrous buffer, this might be the right choice for you.
Honorable Mention – Avid Power Polisher, 6” Random Orbital Waxer/Buffer Kit with Dual-Action, Variable Speed
While its ergonomics leave a little to be desired, we think that this Avid Power Polisher deserves an honorable mention because of its combination of power and effectiveness.
- 6800 maximum speed
- Adjustable speed
- Adjustable secondary grip
- Weak pucks included
- Poor ergonomics
The high maximum speed of this polisher means that you’ll be able to tear out any oxidation or blemishes from your vehicle’s body with a quick pass. Replacing the puck is easy, but you’ll need to find the right pucks for your vehicle if your needs are more complicated than normal.
The other thing to know about this polisher is that the build quality of the engine housing body is not very high. While it isn’t an issue when you’re polishing, the housing can be damaged relatively easily. Once the housing is damaged, it’s a bit of an eyesore.
You will probably find that the main body of the unit is a bit bulky and difficult to hold with one hand. The ergonomics of the secondary grip are also subpar. While you can adjust the angle of the secondary grip to fit the angling of your wrist while polishing, it isn’t comfortable to grip.
Factors to Consider When Choosing A Buffer Or Polisher
When you’re in the market for a buffer or polisher, there’s a handful of factors that you need to be on the lookout for. These factors include:
- Rotation speed
- Cord length
- Engine build quality
- Ease of use
In this next section, we’ll dive into each of these factors to explain what specifically you should be aware of.
The rotation speed of the polisher is critical because it determines how much time you’ll need to spend with the polisher for each patch of vehicle body that you want to shine up.
The reason behind this is very intuitive. When you buff or polish a car manually, you use the rotations of the shammy or sponge to remove blemishes using the force of your hand and arm.
When you use an automatic polisher, a small motor twists the puck rapidly to emulate the same motion. The more times the puck spins relative to a fixed point in a given minute, the more rapidly the same amount of force is applied to the dirt which has accumulated to block the shine.
However, it’s important to remember that the exact same amount of force can be applied by slower rotation speeds, provided that more time is spent on polishing. So, while rotation speed isn’t the only consideration, it is a big factor if you care about spending a lot of time polishing.
The other consideration is that the difference between manual buffing and motor-driven buffing at any speed is vast. Buffing manually, you might rotate the shammy 60 times in a minute.
Even the slowest buffer or polisher will multiply that value by at least 20, with most of the high-end buffers multiplying it by a factor of 100 or more.
Thus, faster buffing speeds aren’t the only thing you should be looking for. But, the more impatient you are when buffing, the higher speed you’ll need to cut down on time spent.
The ergonomics of your polisher are a major concern because you may need to be contorted into an awkward position for a long period of time if your polisher is not ergonomic.
The ergonomics of car polishers have several dimensions:
- Handle comfort
- Secondary handle comfort
- Ease of swapping pucks
The handle comfort is the most obvious element of ergonomics on a polisher because it’s where your primary hand will be gripping the entire time that you’re using the device. If the polisher has special surfaces for you to grip that are distinct from the body of the device, you will be all set.
The weight of the buffer is ultimately a larger concern than the handle, however. Cheaper buffers tend to be heavier because they don’t use miniaturized components.
Each additional ounce of weight means that you’ll tire out faster while moving the buffer over the surface of a vehicle. So, opt for a lighter buffer and you will thank yourself, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time buffing different vehicles.
The size of the buffer is also an important ergonomic factor because it determines how much you’ll have to shift the buffer around while covering the contours of the vehicle that you’re buffing.
Larger buffers are more awkward to shift around shallow contours, meaning that you’ll spend more energy and more time trying to finesse it than you would with a smaller buffer.
Smaller buffers don’t necessarily have smaller puck surfaces, however. So, the size of the puck surface might be considered a subset of the size factor that you should be attentive to as well.
The comfort of the secondary handle varies widely from buffer to buffer. Most secondary handles appear to be an afterthought as far as the manufacturer is concerned even though one of your two hands will be spending 100% of its time holding it.
The biggest sub-factor to consider with the secondary handle is whether its angle can be adjusted. When you are working with a polisher that has an adjustable-angle handle, you can use the secondary handle to make moving the buffer around contours with more ease.
In other words, you’ll be able to get a closer following of the puck to the vehicle’s body. You’ll spend less time going back over areas you should have already covered as a result.
Adjustable angles on the secondary grip will also lower the amount of effort that you have to spend to keep the polisher steady. For people with wrist issues, it can make all the difference.
The cord length of the polisher is a minor concern which you may need to care about if you plan on using your polisher in a place where access to electricity is distant.
Most of the polishers on the market have a cord that is 8 feet, 10 feet, or 20 feet long. There’s no reason to opt for a longer cord length than you think you need, as additional cord length can easily get tangled or in the way.
Engine Build Quality
The engine build quality of your car polisher is a major feature that is extremely difficult to assess from afar.
The build quality of the engine determines how likely the engine is to break when you adjust the polisher’s speed or use it at its rated speed.
Engines with low build quality are more likely to overheat before they break, so engines which run hot are often synonymous with the engines that have low build quality.
On the other hand, some polishers advertise that their engines run cool. Running cool may be a sign that the engine is artificially down-rated below its maximum capacity to ensure that it never reaches the speed at which it could generate heat.
So, running cool is not necessarily a good indicator of a high build quality engine, but at least it means the manufacturer probably took the time to protect the engine from itself, which is a positive sign.
The rotation speed provided by the power from the engine is not a good indicator of build quality either. Cheap engines can rotate extremely rapidly while wearing down their components.
Likewise, good quality buffer engines may not have the highest maximum speeds. But, the best quality car buffer engines will probably have rotation speeds that are at least 3000 rpms, so you should be careful if you opt for a unit with fewer than that.
In general, the price of the polisher is the single best indicator of the quality of the engine. Polishers with weak build quality are almost never sold as higher quality offerings because it’s nearly impossible to hide a bad tool from a craftsman.
Ease of Swapping Pucks
The ease of swapping pucks is a minor consideration for most people who use car buffers. Most pucks can be torn off of the buffer or reseated with a little bit of effort.
Thus, if you find a car buffer which makes a big deal out of the ease of swapping pucks, you should understand that it isn’t going to be saving you much work because there’s a high chance you’ll still need to perform the same puck-removal routine.
In fact, you should probably be on your guard if you see a buffer which allows pucks to be ejected at the push of a button. These buffers often have low build quality with the locking mechanism that they use to keep the puck in place.
Unlike normal buffers, which require you to fit or jam the puck over the rotating buffer head, pucks that are dispensed at the push of a button can sometimes pop out spontaneously during regular use.
Aside from being annoying, it might also be dangerous for such an ejection to happen while you are buffing your vehicle. So, you should try to stay away from push-button puck swapping.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we’ll answer a handful of the most frequently asked questions regarding car polishers so that you’ll know how to use your car polisher — and how not to use it.
What’s the proper technique for using a car polisher?
While there are a few techniques you can use to buff your car more effectively, the basic protocol is very simple.
First, hook up your polisher and attach the puck of your choice to the head. Then, adjust the secondary handle to be comfortable when you are holding the puck at a right angle to the surface of the vehicle.
Next, turn on the buffer. Start to move the buffer gently over the surface of the vehicle. You don’t need to press down on the polisher to buff out the blemishes, but you should let the weight of the polisher rest on the vehicle when applicable.
Remember, the polisher needs full contact with the body of the vehicle if it is intended to provide shine as a result of the motor’s rotation of the puck.
Work the buffer around the vehicle, taking care that when the vehicle has a contour you follow it carefully with the bottom of the puck. Be sure to keep track of where you have already buffed and where you still need to buff.
Continue until all of the surfaces of the vehicle are buffed with a nice shine. Then, you should turn off the buffer and pry off the puck. Next, you can wash the puck in a solution of soap and water, throw it out, or keep it for another buffing job if it isn’t soiled.
Finally, unplug the buffer and coil it for safe storage. Remember not to coil the wire too tightly if you suspect that the manufacturers have compromised on the protection of the point where the cable meets the tip of the handle — coiling it too tightly will cause it to fray and break.
If you find that your forearms or wrists are getting tired while you buff, you should probably adjust the secondary grip such that your wrist can angle with the contours of the vehicle rather than being forced into awkward positions while the buffer brushes them.
Similarly, if you find that your hands themselves are getting tired while you’re buffing, you should probably lighten your grip on the buffer. There’s no reason to have a death grip on the buffer, and gripping too hard will make you tire out much faster without adding anything to your buff job.
Are there any brands of car polisher that are better or worse than the others?
There isn’t any one brand of car buffer that is better or worse than others, but there are a few rules of thumb which you can use when selecting a brand.
In particular, you should stick with companies that produce established products which are used in auto shops or other common appliances.
What type of puck should I be using?
The type of puck that you use should be determined by the type of paint on the car that you’re buffing.
The main thing to remember is that you’ll never go wrong by using a finer puck, you just might use a fine-textured puck inefficiently. Fine-textured pucks are more expensive, but the vehicle won’t be harmed, nor will your buffer.
Most pucks have guides and most types of car paint have guides regarding how they should be used. You should trust these guides and double check that the puck, speed, and paint are compatible.
The size of puck is just as important as the type. The larger puck you use, the more surface area you’ll be able to cover at a time, but the more difficulty you’ll have polishing crevices. You should probably have several sizes of pucks around for different jobs.
Overall, there’s no advantage to pucks made from natural materials in comparison to synthetic pucks. The only thing to remember is that natural pucks are often jacks of all trades rather than specializing in a specific type of polishing.
Which chemicals should I be using to polish my vehicle?
The chemicals you use to polish your vehicle with a buffer depend on what you’re trying to do. If you’re looking to buff out a brilliant shine, you’ll need the chemicals that are made to reflect a little more light.
On the other hand, you don’t always need chemicals during the buffing. If you have a great soap and enough time, you can buff a reflection out of most vehicle paints, provided that they aren’t too worn.
How durable are car buffers?
Most high-quality car buffers are durable enough to use multiple times per day for many years without breaking. Low-quality car buffers will probably break after a few dozen buffing jobs when their engine burns out.
The other major breaking point of low-quality car buffers is the point where the cable connects to the body of the unit itself. Because the cable needs to twist and flex fairly frequently while you are buffing a vehicle, low-quality buffers can fray at the cable or even outright snap.
There isn’t much you can do to prevent the cord on low-quality car buffers from breaking in this way.
Now that you’re all polished up on the products in the car buffer business, you’re ready to pick the buffer set that will be right for your home or garage.
Remember to stay focused on finding a buffer that is ergonomically right for you, and don’t be afraid to turn the speed on your buffer up if you think it’s taking too long to bring your vehicle to a beautiful shine.