What is the Best Car Polisher For Beginners?

What is the Best Car Polisher For Beginners?

Best Car Polisher For Beginners

There are very little things in life that will give you the same satisfaction as machine polishing your car for the first time, whether it be just for gloss enhancement or to carry out some paint correction of swirl marks or scratches in the paint.

I remember the excitement of getting my first car polisher ( Kestral Das-6 ) as a Christmas present years ago very clearly and the butterflies in my stomach as I couldn’t wait to use it on my car. I had spent the weeks leading up to Christmas following guide after guide on the internet and watching tutorials on youtube, studying them in great detail in preparation for the first time having a go at it myself.

The excitement was unreal. Unfortunately, I don’t have a garage where I can work in the dry, and in Ireland, it rains pretty much every day so I was left waiting! The first dry day came and I was out ready to attack the paintwork!


best car paint buffer


Best Car Polisher For Beginner

Best Polisher for Beginner

Best Polisher for Beginner


Best Car Polisher for Beginner


Not a bad result for a 10-year-old car! ( And as a complete beginner at polishing car paint using a machine polisher ) I enjoyed the process and learning the craft so much I would offer to do friends and families’ cars just so I could practice and get more time using the buffer.

Working on my Dads Old Saab 95

Best Car Buffer


Working on my friends Audi A4 3.0Tdi

best car polisher


After doing my girlfriends VW Polo


best car polisher for beginners


One question I get asked all the time is “What is the best car polisher for Beginners who want to learn how to start polishing their car?” and my answer is always the same. Start with the safest type of machine polisher – which is a Dual Action (DA) machine polisher.

It is the perfect type of polisher for learning with. DA is the best choice for the amateur detailer looking to keep the car looking ‘tip-top’ but without the worry of a potential re-spray because they have destroyed the cars paint by diving headfirst into using something that has the potential to do a lot of damage with like a Rotary polisher.

When I was getting that very first polisher, I made sure it had to be a dual-action polisher, and I can wholeheartedly say it was the best choice.

Let’s take a quick look at the difference between the two types of Machine Polishers available. 


Difference Between Dual Action ( DA ) and Rotary Polishers

Years ago, the vast majority of paintwork polishing was carried out using rotary polishers with wool or foam “mops”. These polishers are still the mainstay of many body shops and professional detailers and when used correctly they can deliver great results. However, they do have risks attached to them and require a bit of practice to be able to get the best out of them safely.

Owing to their nature, where the pad spins on a constant orbit, a rotary polisher can develop significant heat on the paint which can lead to paint burns in the hands of an inexperienced detailer.

Dual-action polishers are a much safer tool to simply pick up and use. By dual-action, it means that the pad not only spins in a circle, but it also oscillates. This results in a random orbit movement of the pad – sometimes such polishes are referred to as “Random-Orbit” polishers (RO polishers)

The random orbit nature of a dual action polisher means that it generates far less heat than a rotary polisher. It is a more gentle tool so correction work typically takes longer. However, it is also safer to use and easier to learn which makes it the ideal beginners’ tool.

Rotary Polishers are very straightforward – the head spins on a single axis in a regular circular motion. This causes heat and friction to build up allowing the user to perform paint correction processes. Rotary Polishers will remove marks in the paintwork that dual action polishers cannot, however, a sudden lack of focus or judgment can spell disaster.

So which one is right for you?

Choose a DA Polisher if:

-you want to take a few swirls and light scratches out of your paintwork
-use it regularly to maintain your paintwork
-want something easy to use
-you don’t want to worry about burning through paint or adding holograms to it

Choose a Rotary Polisher if:

-you have serious paintwork blemishes you want to remove
-you have some time to get to grips with the way the machine works
-you want to become a professional detailer

If you are a beginner it is a no brainer which type you should start with, unless you have a lot of money put aside for a respray! But with all the polishers, polishing pads, backing plates and polishing compounds on the market it’s a confusing place for the keen enthusiast looking to get started. Let’s take a look at what you will need to do your first job.


Choosing a Dual Action Polisher

How much should you spend on your first Polisher?

Getting set up with your first DA Polisher does not need to break the bank, there are plenty of choices online which are perfect for getting the job done and learning how to polish before you need to upgrade. If you buy something pretty decent at the beginning, you may never need to upgrade unless you plan to become a professional detailer. Most beginner kits should be more than enough for maintaining the paint on your car. ( Stay away from Crappy Ebay cheap kits, they will be useless. Don’t waste your money! )

My advice to anyone who is making their first polisher purchase, to expect to pay between $150-$250 (£100-£200 ) for their first machine.

While this may seem like a lot of money, you should think of it as more of an investment as this will allow you to maintain your cars paint yourself into the future. Most professional detailers would charge this amount for 1 single paint correction on your car.  In my opinion, it is not a lot of money for something that should last you years.


Choosing your first polisher – My Recommendations

1)Kestrel DAS-6 (Europe Only)

The Kestrel DAS-6 is probably one of the most recommended machine polishers for the beginner detailer. The das6 is a good entry-level machine and the very first machine I had the pleasure of owning. Those results pictures at the top of this post were achieved with this little beauty. The ideal machine polisher for first-timers.

The Kestrel DAS-6 is very popular in Europe. I have had my one for years I’m very happy with it. Lightweight, easy to use and most importantly very safe. While far from what a rotary can do, the correcting power of the DAS-6 can be quite surprising and it allows for a lot of playing with different combinations of buffing pads and polishing emulsions. It’s a machine that will give you satisfaction for many years to come.

My Notes :

+ Affordable entry into the polishing game

+ Great Result

– It is a bit loud and vibrates pretty hard

You can find more info on Price and Spec Here


Best Polisher for beginners


Porter-Cable (PC) is a trusted brand in the detailing scene and has continued to produce quality buffers for detailing pros and beginners all around. The PC 7424XP Variable Speed Polisher is one of the best on the market for beginners looking to learn. One of the best things about this machine is it’s a very reasonable price for the level of performance and quality that this DA polisher has. True quality and professional-grade polisher without over-spending for a hyped-up brand name polisher

My Notes :

+ Easy to use

+ Lightweight and very little vibration

+ Very good value for the money

You can find more info on Price and Spec Here



3.Griot’s Garage 6″ DA Polisher

Another tried and trusted DA Polisher that you can’t go wrong with. Again, with all of the other DA polishers, this is completely safe for beginners. It has 6 different speed settings which also makes it very versatile. One of the nicest things about this polisher is that it comes with 25-foot power cable.


My Notes :

+ Durable and well built

+ Good for both beginners and more experienced detailers

+ Great and consistent results

You can find more info on Price and Spec Here


best car polisher for beginners

4.Meguiar’s MT300

This is an incredibly well-made product by Meguiars, who is one of the leading names in the detailing industry. This Polisher is a little higher on the price scale, but I would argue that the quality of this machine can command the price. This is one of those products where you buy once, and should not have to buy again as I would be fairly confident it could accomplish 99% of paint correction you could ever need.

This model features digital torque management – This a digital instantaneous feedback circuit that increases torque when downward pressure is applied to maintain loaded speed levels, which is something that a lot of other polishing machines don’t have.


My Notes :

+ Well Made with an attractive design

+ All you should ever need

–  A bit more expensive than other polishers, especially since it does not come with a backing plate included.

You can find more info on Price and Spec Here


Best Car Polisher for Beginners



Chemical Guys spent a great deal of time designing the TORQ 10FX Random Orbital Polisher, and it becomes apparent the first time you use it. I imagine that this Polisher was developed with the beginner in mind, and fine-tuned using feedback from professional detailers that polish paint for a living. I would say this polisher is ideal for long polishing sessions as it has very little vibration which limits fatigue. Once you start out polishing as a beginner you will know all about this problem soon enough! One particular thing I like about this polisher is its digital LCD screen indicating your selected speed setting


My Notes :

+ Well Made with an attractive design

+ All you should ever need

–  A bit more expensive than other polishers, especially since it does not come with a backing plate included.

You can find more info on Price and Spec Here



Best car polisher for beginners

You pretty much cannot go wrong with any of the models I have listed above, so just pick one that suits your preference and own budget and start learning how to machine polish your car. Once you get a feel for it, you will never look back. So once you have your polisher, there are a couple of more important things you will need to get started.

If you are a more advanced user, you can see some of the other polishers I recommend HERE

Choosing a Polish to use

So you have your polisher picked, great! You can’t do much with a machine polisher with no Polish. The next step to get started on learning how to polish your car is to get some compounds. You will more than likely need 2 types of Compounds ( You could buy an all in 1 compound but I would suggest you are better off learning the tried and tested way and understanding the difference between compound types.

1)Cutting Compound

Cutting compounds have abrasive fibres and particles that cut into paint’s topmost surface, to remove very thin paint layers. The strength of the cutting compound you will need depends on the condition of the paintwork. If you have a heavily swirled car or need to remove big scratches, you will need something with a heavy cut. If this is your first time polishing, I would go for something with a medium-cut. I have always used Menzerna products and learned using them. So these what I would recommend to someone starting as you don’t have to worry about the quality of their products. Menzerna Super Intensive Polish PO83 is a good place to start. More info here.


Best Polish for Beginners



2.Finishing Compound

Finishing compounds are used as the last stage of polishing to bring out the paint’s lustre and gloss after cutting. Polishing compounds can use very tiny abrasive particles and cleaners or contain a wax and sealer combination. They function like swirl remover, aside from the extra sealant or protectant used as a barrier against UV light damage and oxidation. Menzerna Final Finish 3000 would be a good compliment to the cutting compound above. More info Here



best polish for beginners


There are hundreds of others out there, but these are stalwarts and all you’d need to learn how to machine polish. To go with the polish above, you will also need the correct pads to go with each compound. You will need a Medium Cutting Pad and a Polishing Pad.

1)Cutting Pad

A cutting pad is an aggressive pad that gets attached to a buffer to help remove noticeable surface imperfections in the clear coat or paint. For your first time polishing, my go-to recommendation for beginners would be a medium-cut pad. My Pad of preference would be Chemical Guys Hex-Logic Medium-Heavy Cutting Pad. This is a great all-rounder to start with. You should use this pad with the Menzerna Intensive polish that I have listed above. You can read my guide on the hex logic cutting pads here


Best car polisher for beginners

2)Finishing Pad

A Finishing Pad is A soft pad that is used to produce a high gloss finish. Again, the Chemical guys pads would My Pad I would recommend. You can’t go wrong with the Chemical Guys Hex-Logic Finishing Pad. Another great all-rounder. You should use this Pad with the Menzerna Finishing Polish as listed above.


best polisher for beginners

Getting Started with Machine Polishing your Car

Hopefully, I have given you enough information to get started with machine polishing on your car. The only way to learn is to practice, have a go, practice on your runabout or buy a panel from the scrap yard before getting stuck into your pride and joy. I would be interested to hear your own experiences and your preferences on polishing products and equipment, so please let me know in the comments below. I will hopefully get around to posting up a detailed guide on the polishing process soon, so keep an eye out for that to go up.

Update – Beginners Guide to Polishing is now live HERE


Until then,

Happy Detailing!

About the Author – Darren O Hara

Darren is the founder of the DriveDetailed blog and is a keen detailing enthusiast living in the rainy south of Ireland. When he is not cleaning his car he is always researching ways he can improve his techniques and enjoys testing out out new products.

Darren currently drives an Audi TTRS and is a big fan of performance cars.

You can follow Darren on Instagram @darrenoharacork

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14 thoughts on “What is the Best Car Polisher For Beginners?

  1. Hi Darren, nice post! I just want to add-up one more important point that car buffers and polishing is an area of auto detailing that is grossly misunderstood by many. Could you give more insights about this matter so everyone can even more aware of?

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