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Through proper maintenance, you can keep your car’s exterior looking beautiful while helping protect against rust and UV damage. Sadly, even the most well-kept cars can fall victim to fate: scratches are inevitable simply from regularly using your car.
A staple tool for fixing scratches is a rotary polisher, which spins in a single direction. However, rotary polishers come with risks, and are prone to overheating or swirling your paint job.
Dual action orbital polishers have all the same uses as rotary polishers with none of the risks. While spinning, they oscillate and wobble to balance the friction and avoid overheating. If you want to invest in a dual action polisher (also called “DA” polishers, short for Dual Action), there are options available for any budget.
Our Top Picks – Corded DA/Orbital Polishers
1. TORQ TORQX Random Orbital Polisher
This polisher is a solid, reliable option for anyone looking to give their car a nice finish. It has a simple set of controls, which includes variable speeds to better match the RPM to the job at hand. The polisher has a compact design so it can store easily in your garage until it is time to polish your car.
As a random orbital polisher, this works a little differently from a normal DA polisher. The rotation and the wobble of a DA polisher are driven by the same mechanism, which means they are synched and repeat without any variation. A random polisher like this one wobbles separately from the rotation, meaning you get a more varied polish which can help disguise your polishing work.
For professionals or car owners alike, this polisher is well-built and will last for years of use. One of the advantages of the streamlined mechanics and simple controls is that there are fewer parts at risk of malfunctioning. This is an excellent go-to orbital polisher.
2. Meguiar’s MT300 Dual Action Variable Speed Polisher
Here is a hardcore orbital polisher for serious car fans. It has a remarkably wide range of speeds (3,000 – 7,500 OPM) so that you only need one tool for the job, for everything from applying polishing to the final buffing process. The polisher is engineered to automatically adjust its torque, helping it keep a steady orbital speed.
The main handle is ergonomically designed for a comfortable grip. There is also a variable-position D-handle for your other hand, which can prevent strain. And because the D-handle is adjustable, it makes it easier to keep a good grip while working at any angle.
There are also a few handy safety features. For one, the polisher is designed to progressively rev up to speed, so that it does not launch itself out of your hands. It takes its time so that you can maintain a safe grip. It also has a counterweight in the rotating head so that it does not jump around. This way you can keep the polisher safely in place.
3. Avid Power Buffer Polisher
Look no further for a compact yet powerful orbital polisher. If you so choose, you could operate this polisher with one hand, thanks to its ergonomic rubber grip. It also has an adjustable D-handle to give your main hand a bit of help on the more technical corners of your car.
As a safety feature, it spins at a constant speed on lower settings until the polisher touches your car, at which point it detects the contact and adjusts to the selected speed. This makes controlling the polisher easier during the waxing stages. And when it comes time to buff off the wax, you can crank the speed up (you have 6 settings between 1,500 – 6,800 RPM to choose from) to finish the job.
To avoid any accidents where the polishing head scratches up your car, the polishing pads included with the polisher itself are an inch oversized, effectively covering any exposed metal. The polisher is designed with a simple set of controls, making this easy for a homeowner to pick up and operate when they decide to try polishing their car themselves.
Our Top Picks – Cordless DA/Orbital Polishers
1. POPOMAN Brushless Cordless Polisher
The obvious advantage of cordless polishers is the freedom of movement they offer. No longer do you have to drag an extension cord around your garage while waxing. This polisher design feels like most corded polishers with its long, narrow body, but also offers the versatility of going cordless.
If you want to be sure you are getting a powerful tool, simply look to the brushless motor on this polisher. Brushless motors operate more efficiently than their brushed brothers, meaning your polisher’s lifespan increases tenfold just from having such a motor.
This polisher has 6 speeds, ranging from 1,500 – 5,000 OPM, and has a battery life of up to 30 minutes of work. With the versatility offered by these features, you have everything you need to wax and buff your car. And you will be able to work straight through for those 30 minutes thanks to a few ergonomic features, like comfortable grips and a D-handle. One uncommon feature is a trigger lock so you can let go of the power button, easing a lot of potential strain on your thumb.
2. Einhell CE-CB Power X-Change Orbit Buffer
Two-handled orbital polishers such as this one are very comfortable to hold, as they take equal effort from both hands. They also tend to have a very wide polishing pad, so you can work that much faster.
The polisher operates at a speedy 2,500 OPM, a perfect middle-ground where it can apply wax and buff it off with equal ease. If the motor begins to get out of hand, a built-in overload prevention system triggers and automatically shuts off the polisher. This can prevent damage to your paint job if the polisher begins orbiting too quickly, creating more friction and frying your paint.
Einhell has its own branded lithium-ion batteries which are available with a custom charging station. These can be plugged in to power any of their tools, including this orbital polisher. Having the freedom to work cordlessly plus any easy-charge battery makes this polisher an incredibly flexible tool that will fit well with the rest of the tools in your garage.
3. Milwaukee 2738-20 M18 Cordless Variable Speed Polisher
The M18 FUEL™ 7″ Variable Speed Polisher is the first cordless rotary polisher that harnesses the power of M18 FUEL™ technology. This tool delivers corded performance that allows users to power through the most demanding applications.
The polsiher is lighter than Milawaukee’s corded polishers and has a variable speed dial and trigger, making it easy to control.
The M18 FUEL™ Polisher can complete a full size car on one charge when working on moderate to good paint with paired M18 XC5.0 batteries. The new tool is designed to distribute more of its weight over the pad, providing natural pressure on the surface area.
The polisher has a rubber over mold front housing to protect the paint from scratches and a removable dust cover to protect the motor and electronics from wool fibers and residue.
This particular model does not come with a battery.
What To Know Before Buying a Dual Action (DA) Polisher?
Why Use A Dual Action Polisher
DA Polishers are very user-friendly, able to be used by just about anybody. So long as you have the proper buffing pad attached, polishing is just matter of running the device across the body of your car. If you are using is for the first time, the DA polisher automatically switches modes if you are at risk of damaging your car’s exterior.
- How To Polish Your Car by Hand or With a Buffer
- How To Wax Your Car By Hand Or With A Buffer
- Polishing vs. Waxing A Car: What’s The Difference?
The polisher switches modes when you start pushing too hard, making it safe for your paintwork. While the polisher normally spins, if pressed too firmly onto the car body, it stops rotating and begins vibrating. This prevents any more heat from generating and dissipates what was already there, to avoid melting your paint job and leaving swirl lines.
Finally, the polisher leaves your car looking great, as it removes scratches and swirls. The polisher works by lightly heating up the clear coat of your car’s paint, which melts away light damage and imperfections. It also buffs up your car and makes it look shiny and new.
What to Look For in a Dual Action Polisher?
Pick an Appropriate Speed
A polisher will measure its speed either in orbits per minute (OPM) or rotations per minute (RPM). Look for a DA polisher with variable speed so that you can take on a number of jobs. You want a lower speed for basic polishing, and a higher speed to remove light scratches. To deal with deep scratches, you will need a heavy-duty polisher that spins at 3000 RPM or more.
Go For a Comfortable Feel
You are going to be using the polisher for at least an hour to buff your entire car, so you want it to feel comfortable. Some polishers have a side handle so you can share the strain between both your hands and avoid cramps.
Look for Risk Prevention Features
Automatic shutdowns are included on some high-quality DA polishers. These shut off power and stop the polisher from spinning if it detects that you are using the polisher incorrectly. You can also find speed locks which keep the polisher spinning at a uniform speed. Features like these prevent the polisher from damaging your car’s exterior.
Avoid Brushed Motors
Brushed motors are built with carbon brushes inside, which are fairly common as they are cheap to manufacture. However, brushed motors are more likely to overheat if used continually, so you need to stop frequently to let to motor cool off.
A DA polisher with a brushless motor is a smarter choice, as it is less prone to accidents and malfunctions. It is also more efficient to work with, as you can skip the frequent breaks. Brushless motors tend to have a higher output as well.
As with any power tool, you do not want your polisher breaking down halfway through a job. Do your research to find a DA polisher that is known for its reliability, and you will save yourself money down the line when you might have had to buy a replacement polisher.