Best power car polishers 2021

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.

Verdict

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. 

Best Orbital

  1. Silverline DIY 110W Orbital Car Polisher 240mm
  2. Draper 125mm Dual Action Polisher

Best Rotary

  1. Silverline DIY 1200W
  2. Vonhaus Polisher & Sander 1200W

Reviews: Orbital polishers

Silverline DIY 110W Orbital Car Polisher 240mm

 

Silverline’s entry-level orbital polisher costs little more than a bag of rag cloths and is cheap enough to make even the occasional user think it’s not worth the effort of using elbow grease. There are a few signs of cost-saving measures to be found, such as the handle being fixed rather than adjustable, while the power cable is inconveniently short, at just 3.7 metres, so an extension lead is vital. It’s noisier than its rivals here, too, and the vibrations became tiring after using it for a long period, but the polishing performance is decent enough. There’s no arguing with the price for occasional scratch removal and paint pimping. 

Buy now from Amazon

Draper 125mm Dual Action Polisher 

Get the Draper out of its box and you might feel short-changed, because it’s much smaller than its rivals here. A glance at the specs suggests it’s much less powerful, too. But it uses a combination of rotating and orbiting to maximise the polishing effect, and the smaller head means it’s perfect for working on tight areas. It’s usefully lighter, at 2kg, and quieter, making it less work to use over long periods. For the extra cash you also get a polishing sponge, a bag and a handy five-metre power cable. 

Buy now from Amazon

Halfords 110W Polisher 

Forget the Silverline for a moment and this Halfords best-seller looks good value. It comes with two cloth ‘bonnets’ – a towelling one to apply the polish, and an artificial lambswool one for removing residue and final finishing. Extra bonnets are £3 per pair. They’re not that easy to change, though, with over-tight elastic that requires strong thumbs to fit. The Halfords unit also boasts adjustable handles and a five-metre cord, but we can’t bring ourselves to think that’s worth £11 more than the Silverline. 

Buy now from Halfords

Bauker 18V Buffer Polisher

Cordless polishers are usually out of the price range of many DIY or hobby valeters, but this 18V battery-powered unit is less than £70. The performance doesn’t suffer from losing the cable, with the polisher chugging away for around half an hour before demanding a recharge. But besides being weighty and costing twice as much as the Halfords and Silverline machines, it only comes with one polishing bonnet.

Buy now from Toolstation

Reviews: Rotary polishers

Silverline DIY 1200W 

It’s another win for Silverline in the rotary category, simply because this polisher doesn’t fail at anything and is such astonishing value for money. There are no frills at this price point, of course, so you don’t get the carrying case or selection of polishing heads you’ll find with its competitors here, but it still comes with a sanding pad and fluffy bonnet. The Silverline is well balanced and light, which makes long polishing sessions easy. Like its orbital brother (above), though, the cable is irritatingly short, but you’ll be able to buy an extension cable with the money you save. 

Buy now from Amazon

Vonhaus Polisher & Sander 1200W

  • Type: Rotary  
  • Price: £74.99  
  • Rating: 3.5 stars  
  • Contact: www.vonhaus.com

You might not be too familiar with the Vonhaus brand and baulk at the relatively high price as a result, but the complete package looks like decent value once you’ve added up everything that’s packed into the sturdy plastic carry case. There are 10 attachments to cover every polishing option. The machine itself is sturdy, with a good range of speed adjustment and an unflappable motor. The five-metre cable is welcome. Our only reservation is the weight. At more than 3kg, using the Vonhaus on vertical panels for long periods leads to aching arms. 

Buy now from Amazon

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