Best Auto Buffers Review
Deciding the perfect fit for you!

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Welcome to Best Auto Buffers Review where I am going to walk you through the difficult process of picking a top rated car buffer. In today's world of the Internet, most of you will find yourself sifting through too much information and opinions, rather than not enough.

As society we are on information overload and anyone with an opinion now has a stage to voice their opinion. Any trip into one of the many car and detail forums will only confirm we are drowning in a sea of endless opinions; most of which originate from people who really have no business even offering up an opinion in the first place. It seems we are now living in a world of free information that is little more than people looking to simply give an opinion.

I get it! It feels good to give an opinion regardless of whether this opinion actually comes from first hand experience, or more importantly what I call "real-world" experience.

But when it comes to making important decisions, how does one tell which are the good opinions versus the bad.

Real World Experience!

auto buffers

"Darren, I visit so many detail and car forums and each time I walk away being more confused and frustrated than ever. Can you help me figure out what is the best fit for me when it comes to choosing from what feels like an endless selection of auto buffers?"

Unlike most other car buffer reviews, my reviews come from the real world of professional detailing. The reality is that 80% of the people offering opinions on the many car forums have no business offering their opinions...

Opinions which are generally based on very limited experience and knowledge. Only 20% of the people are actually qualified to give an opinion and offer tips that are based on real-world experience. To make matters even worse, many of these so-called experts have hidden agendas simply based on their own pocket book or self-promotion.

"Unfortunately most people like yourself lack the experience and knowledge to even ask the right questions in order to make a true informed decision. If you had the answers, you likely wouldn't be here in the first place!"

Darren's Auto Buffer Review made Simple!

If you are anything like myself which I know many of you are, you would appreciate things made simple by someone you can trust; my goal is to be that someone....

  1. Today's buffers are more user friendly than ever before.
  2. 95% of you will only ever need a single polisher for all your polishing needs. Whether you are a driveway detailer, enthusiast, or looking to go professional. And most often, this will be a quality random orbital like the ones below.
  3. The good news is that due to the newer car polishers/buffers, you no longer have to start with some low-budget entry level polisher if you are a true beginner.
  4. I have instructed hundreds of people with this same checklist and philosophy, and have never had anyone tell me they weren't able to come to the best decision for themselves.

Auto Buffers:
Myth Busting!

Before we get too far into selecting a top rated car buffer, let's begin by busting a few bad rumors that continue to circulate and have likely caused you confusion yourself.

  • You should never use a car buffer. Polishing a car by hand is the only way and the safest way.

False! Yes, you could argue that polishing by hand is the safest way as far as not creating swirl marks or burning any edges, but the simple fact is that no person will ever be able to maintain the consistency of speed, pressure, and duration produced by using a car buffer over using your hand. There is a reason that in virtually every area of craftsmanship, the use of powers tools exists for a reason. Because when you match up the right tool with the right craftsman; amazing things happen! Car buffers and polishing your car with a quality car buffer is no exception.

  • I heard that once you touch your car with a buffer, the paint is never the a bad way.

Depends. I know; I hate that answer also. But it really does depend. It depends on lots of things. The good news is that with today's car buffers, polishes, compounds, and buffing pads, it would be hard for even an "out of the box" beginner to actually screw car paint up! The car buffers and everything else that goes along with polishing your car have been engineered to perform at such an entry level position, a monkey could do it and produce far better results than you will if you think you are gonna do it by hand.

Let's Help You Pick the Right Car Buffer

auto buffers review tips

Having grown up in the world of professional detailing, I was limited to high-speed car polishers. Today's auto buffers consist of both high-speed (rotary) and what is called random orbital or DA (dual action) car buffers.(I am using a DeWalt rotary polisher to polish out the gel coat on a boat in this picture)

While the heavy lifting of paint correction and car polishing has traditionally been left to the high-speed car polishers, today's DA car buffers can achieve virtually the same results as a high-speed buffer without the risk generally associated with high-speed (rotary) car buffers. (Using only a random, dual action car buffer will definitely take longer than using a rotary to do the job, but any beginner car owner will appreciate the user-friendly experience of the newest in random orbital car buffers)

Random Orbital, Dual Action Buffers

Random orbitals are what many consider to be the best auto buffers for the largest group of people; from beginners to professionals. Also called DA for dual action, these car buffers are designed to replicate the motion of your hand when applying polish or wax; there are (2) rotating points. (Think of the earth spinning on its axis, while circling around the sun.)

  • Random orbitals are considered the safest car buffers due to lower RPM's and non-forced rotation. This means that if too much pressure is applied, it will cease to spin (it continues to oscillate, but not spin) and therefore will minimize risk to the paint. This is why it is called a random orbital; versus a forced rotation dual action polisher.
  • The tool most people will want to start with and likely the last polisher you will ever need moving forward regardless of where your detailing path takes you. The dual-cation buffer would be the one car buffer I recommend for virtually anybody looking to learn how to use a car polisher for the first time.
  • Also ideal for any true beginner due to the non-forced, dual action motion; extremely easy to maintain control while using.

Darren's Note: Throughout this page I will switch between using the term polisher and buffer. Just know they are simply terms used interchangeably for the same "thing". Some guys call them polishers, some guys call them buffers.

The Elusive Obvious

Before we get into the top rated auto buffers I am about to lay out for you, let's start with what is just as important as choosing a top rated car buffer:

A top rated car polish! (This is the elusive obvious that most car buffer reviews don't talk about) Obviously if you are looking for a car buffer, you are looking to buff out your car. You will not get very far without choosing a great car polish do go with that great car buffer.

CSI Ceram-X Polish Quart 62-203-Q

  • The true professional grade polish that is now finally available to the public
  • The car polish I call my "sure thing" with it's ability to produce professional results regardless of the type of car paint you are working with when you polish cars
  • The very car polish I use at the professional level
  • A professional grade car polish that is also a sure thing for any true beginner
  • Can be used with any car buffer, any polishing pad
  • Produce swirl free results
  • Non-staining (won't stain black trim; easily cleaned from black trim)
  • Water based formulation allows you to work in direct sunlight on hot paint (95% of all my polishing is done in the direct sunlight as a professional mobile detailer)
  • Works on any type of clear coat (hard, medium, or soft) or any type of paint formulation
  • Easy clean-up! No more rock hard compound/polish residue that dries to "concrete" days and weeks after your polish job. Since this is a water based formulation you can use tap water and a micro-fiber cloth if you get any polish in or on any unwanted areas.

Can't Use a Car Buffer Without Polishing Pads

Since I am throwing in my selection of the top rated car polish, I should also add the following when it comes to polishing pads.

Chemical Guys HEX_3KIT_6 6.5" Buffing Pad Kit (4 Items), 16 fl. oz, 4 Pack

  • When it comes to swirl free car polishing, foam pads are your first choice as a beginner.
  • There are so many different pad choices; you really don't need to over-think your pad choice at the beginning.
  • This pad combination will be ideal for a beginner as you have (3) different pad strengths (soft to firm)
  • When doing paint correction, you start with the firmest pad and work your way down to the softest pad.

Darren's Tips: Like every other area of auto detailing you will find yourself neck-deep with endless opinions. Everyone has an opinion on the best car buffers, the best buffing pads, and the best car polish.

You really don't have to over-think most of it. To be the most important decisions to make are these (2):

  • Choose one of the top rated car buffers off this page
  • Use the CSI Ceram-X as your choice in polish

Doing these two things will give you a massive head start regardless of whether this is your very first car polishing experience or not!

Foam Polishing Pad Conditioning

Nanoskin (NAA-PCB1 Pad Conditioning Brush

  • Ideal for use on foam pads to remove used polish from pads
  • Use every so often as you see fit to keep your pad clean of used car polish
  • You can spritz your pad with the pad cleaner or tap water then use this for a more thorough pad cleaning job

Darren's Trick: If you want to do without a separate pad cleaning tool then you can try what I do: simply have some water in a spray bottle. When your pad is ready for cleaning, spray the pad, turn on the buffer and hold a micro-fiber cloth firmly against the pad. This will "mop up" any used polish and keep your pad fresh.

Darren's Top Pick for Random Orbital Buffers
(Also known as dual-action or DA)

Griot's Garage 10813STDCRD 6" Random Orbital Polisher with 10' Cord

  • One of the exact DA buffers I use professionally.
  • The perfect auto buffer 95% of you will ever need.
  • From applying wax to high levels of paint correction.
  • As easy to use as easy can get.
  • From a complete beginner to advanced professional.
  • Louder and less ergonomically friendly as other higher priced DA polishers.

PORTER-CABLE 7424XP 6-Inch Variable-Speed Polisher

  • What most detailers would consider the original when it comes to rando, dual-action auto buffers
  • Winning price, performance, ergonomics, and overall user experience.
  • Still one of the best, entry level car buffers you can get.
  • I promise, you will not be disappointed!

Professional Grade Random Orbital Auto Buffers
(Also known as dual-action or DA)

Darren's Note:

The professional grade random orbital car buffers below are in-fact professional grade equipment which is reflected in the price.But like anything in life; you get what you pay for.

If you are willing to spend more on one of the more expensive top rater auto buffers from Griot's or Rupes than you can expect to get a lot more in the way of performance and overall user experience.

Rupes LHR 21 Mark II Big Foot Random Orbital Polisher

  • For those who are looking for the next level in performance.
  • For those of you that generally shop for what is considered the best regardless of cost.
  • A high quality, dual-action car buffer.
  • Made in Italy from a well known tool manufacturer.
  • Second generation version.
  • One of the many buffers I own and use professionally.

Griot's Garage BG21 21 mm THE BOSS Long-Throw Orbital

  • A true professional grade car polisher.
  • From a company that has specialized in cosmetic car care for decades.
  • Featuring the latest in performance, ergonomics, and technology.
  • Also one of the many car buffers I own and have tested in the real world.

Rotary Car Buffers
(High-speed buffers)

Rotary or high-speed car buffers are considered the red-headed step children by many inexperienced and misinformed people. Similar to the proverbial gun debate that guns don't kill... high-speed buffers don't damage paint; people do!

Now the industry has responded with updated forms of these necessary tools with reduced operating speeds, soft-start control, and better ergonomics that make these tools every bit as safe as an orbital car buffer.

They are still heavier and more difficult to use due to the weight, but nonetheless, they are very safe when used at the lowest speed settings.

  • Slow start speeds of 600 RPM's (this is very slow!)
  • Every bit as safe as any orbital auto buffers.
  • Represent the broadest range of performance and abilities that can be used in every form of car, boat, or RV polishing. (These type of polishers can operate at very low speeds that make them incredibly safe, and they can also handle high speeds with lots of pressure to generate the friction and speeds needed for boat and RV polishing)
  • Slower speeds mean that true swirl free finish can be obtained without switching to orbital car polisher as a finishing tool. (I set my polisher between 600-800 RPM's and use a foam pad for final and finish polishing)
  • Based on your budget and expectations with regard to build quality, any of the (2) auto buffers below will not disappoint and will last you a lifetime of use!

Top Rated High-Speed Car Buffers
(Also known as rotary polishers)

DEWALT DWP849X 7-Inch/9-Inch Variable Speed Polisher with Soft Start

  • One of my favorites.
  • The exact car polisher I use for any of my "heavy lifting".
  • A must have if you plan on doing fiberglass/gel coat restoration or polishing for heavy duty oxidation removal.
  • Soft start for a great user experience.
  • Super slow run speed starting at 600 rpm.

This high-speed car polisher from DeWalt is a true work horse. Yes you could spend more on a top rated car buffer, but if you are not concerned with "appearances" and having to shop based on perception, then this DeWalt is an excellent choice and will provide endless years of true professional level performance.

This is the exact auto buffer that 95% of all body shops use because they are such work horses and can truly perform at a professional level.

The Mercedes of High-Speed Car Polishers

FLEX (PE 14-2 150) POLISHFLEX Compact Variable Speed Rotary Car Polisher

  • Considered the Mercedes of car polishers.
  • German made; German engineering.
  • Your choice when ultimate in user experience and performance is a must.
  • Based on the price difference between the Flex and the De Walt, you can also see why big-time body shops are not supplying their workers with the refinement of the Flex polisher.

I realize there are those of you that simply want the best of the best. If you consider yourself one of those people then the Flex rotary polisher is going to be your pick as the top rated car polisher.

I accept that as a rule we truly get what we pay for, and while I know I can produce the same end result with the DeWalt from above, that I can with this Flex, the difference comes down to the user experience, and the user experience behind this polisher will simply be "better".

Rotary Car Polishing Accessories:
What Would Darren Do (WWDD)

Rotary polishers are definitely a different animal than the random, dual-action auto buffers from above. The rotary (high-speed) buffers will require different backing plates and pads to go with them.

I am going to tell you what I would do and do, as a professional: I use the CSI backing plate and pad system.

CSI 62-305 Buffing Pad Backing Plate

  • These backing plates fit universally on any of the auto buffers above
  • Special backing plate that is part of the direct-fit placement system used by CSI
  • Use with any hook and loop (Velcro) polishing pads; but specifically made to fit precisely within the CSI wool pads below

CSI Tiger Cut Wool Pad 62-309

  • When it comes to serious paint correction and serious money making, you just can't beat the speed of using a rotary buffer along with a wool pad to speed of the chore of the heavy lifting of paint correction.
  • The rotary buffer and wool pads are definitively what you need if you plan on doing serious polishing on your boat. (Boats require the use of much heavier pressure, speeds, and friction that can only be created with a rotary polisher and a wool pad. Yes, you can still use one of the random orbitals auto buffers above to polish your boat, but it will come at the expense of time. You will spend far more serious time to do the same boat polishing job with a random orbital versus a rotary polisher)

CSI X-Treme Red Finishing Pad 62-312

  • Foam pad for the CSI direct-fit backing plate
  • Can be used with any polish of your choice
  • Ideally constructed for fine polishing (also called jeweling)
  • Euro foam

Darren's Professional Tips:

polishing mercedes benz

Most of us live on tighter budget than we would like, so most of you will be deciding upon one of these auto buffers that will do the most with the least price. In a perfect world you would probably have 4 different types of polishers; a specific buffer for a specific job. ( I currently have 3 polishers I rotate in and out of testing as can be seen in the various pictures of this website) With all that said, how do you decide upon the best buffer that will do the most and allow you to go the furthest. Without knowing your world, all I can do is apply my perspective based on years of experience:

  • The most simple answer will be to choose one of the random orbital auto buffers from above; my top pick if you are on a budget would be the first auto buffer from Griot's. If money was not your major concern, then the Rupes or the Griot's BOSS 21.
  • Everything has limitations and trade-off's. Hopefully you know what those are based on these auto buffers I have reviewed.
  • 95% of you will only ever need a single polisher to start with and it will last you for years to come; so go with one of the random orbitals.
  • For the other 5% of you that either want to have ultimate in versatility and want to branch out into other areas of detailing such as heavy oxidation removal on boats and RV's, you will need a rotary for those types of jobs. With that said, I would still begin with one of the random orbitals and work up from there as you progress in skill.

Auto Buffers Review

My goal is to always provide what I consider usable information, not information for the sole purpose of entertainment. Hopefully you are much more informed and can make a decision as to what the winning combination of auto buffers means in your world.

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