When it comes to polishing a car there is one important step to take before you even turn the garage lights on, buying the right car polisher for the job. Your local Wal-Mart might seem like a good place to start but before you take your wallet out and buy a cheap polisher please spend some time and do a little research.
There are all kinds of car polishers available on the market and many of them belong in the garbage can, there are only a handful of car polishers available that will actually produce results that you will be proud of and will make your car shine like new. It takes a long time to properly polish a car, don't waste that time by using inferior tools.
Dual Action vs High Speed Rotary
Historically professional detail shops have used a high-speed rotary car polisher to buff out a car and remove blemishes from the paint, this is not the recommended approach for an amateur as it presents a significant risk of damaging your paint beyond repair (read new paint job). The car polisher has significantly evolved over the last decade or so starting with the introduction of the Porter Cable 7424xp dual action polisher. Bought in a kit the Porter Cable 7424xp represents a great value for the amateur or professional Auto Detailer.
The dual action car polisher uses a slower (approx. 150-500 rpm) random orbit instead of a straight high-speed spinning motion to buff the surface of the paint. The random orbit motion virtually eliminates accidentally burning the paint while still producing results in minutes that the human hand would take hours to produce. A dual action car polisher can accomplish the same results as a high-speed rotary car polisher, the only difference is it will take a little more time. This tradeoff of time is worth it for the safety of the dual action approach.
When it comes to picking a brand name, the dual action orbital car polishers from Porter Cable, Griots Garage and Mequire's are all good quality and will get the job done when paired with the proper pad and polish for the job. If you have a little more room in your budget then stepping up to the Flex XC 3401 dual action car polisher might be a wise move. This unit is a forced rotation dual action polisher which is a hybrid of a Rotary Polisher and the typical dual action polisher. It will cut some time off your overall polish job while maintaining the safety of random orbit and like a Mercedes-Benz it represents fine German-made craftmanship.
Note: Before you start to polish your car make sure you wash it properly and clay the paints surface first.
When buying your car polisher make sure stick to the brands mentioned above and avoid cutting corners and buying a cheap incapable car polisher. Your car will thank your for the investment and you'll turn heads on a sunny day.