A powered polisher will take the strain out of buff bodywork. But which of these budget polishers did we take a shine to? Anyone who takes pride in their car will like to add a bit of shine to its paint. Polishing will remove the tiny – or not so tiny – scratches, which are inevitably collected as part of everyday life. But polishing is hard work, so it makes sense to let a power tool take the strain.
There are generally two types of polisher. The first, and usually cheapest, has an orbital action, moving in small circles rather than rotating. It is safer to use, but takes longer to get a good shine. Rotary polishers have heads that spin at a variable speed. They achieve a shine faster, but you must ensure that you don’t wear through the paint on sharp edges.
How we tested them
We focused on polishers designed for DIY use. To ensure we judged the features that matter, we called on Richard Tipper of Perfection Detailing. He’s been working with such machines during his 30 years of polishing cars.
Using his advice, we tested the units on painted panels, using the recommended polishing and finishing pads. Machines were judged on the motor’s torque, speed adjustments, accessories, weight and noise levels. We also gave points to those that felt balanced and had longer power cables. Price was also considered, using posted online sources.
How to use a polisher
Our expert Richard Tipper has polished the most valuable cars in the world, so knows the pitfalls that await the uninitiated DIY-er. Attack the car with a rotary machine and an aggressive cutting paste and you could soon wear through the paint surface, leaving you with no choice but to respray.
Tipper’s advice is to get a feeling for the machine and your car’s paint by experimenting on a section of a flat panel using a medium or fine polish liquid and pad combination. After a few minutes, wipe off the residue and see if it has had the desired effect. If you’d like more shine, apply more pressure, up the machine speed, or use a more aggressive compound or firmer pad. But Tipper’s key advice is just to be careful. You can always go back and polish more if needed, but it’s much more difficult to replace paint if you go too far in the first place.
Silverline cleans up in both sections here, simply because its machines are affordable enough to make you wonder if it’s worth the effort of polishing by hand.
Both units are aimed at the occasional DIY-er, so we could understand why a more serious shiner would want to upgrade to the Draper machine. This might be small, but it’s versatile enough to handle intricate curves or bigger panels. It also gives the best blend of polishing power without making us worry about damaging paint.