Car Polishing Machines and the Difference Between Rotary, Dual Action & Orbital

When looking to buy a polishing machine we often get asked if Rotary car polishing machines are suitable for first-time users and what the main differences are between Rotary, Dual Action and Orbital car polishers.

Rotary Polishers

The motor on these machines directly drives the polishing head that fixes directly to the backing plate onto which you fix your cutting, polishing or finishing pad.

This means all the power, and there can be a vast amount of it, is directly driving the rotation of the machine down onto and across your paintwork – too much pressure and you can quickly burn through your paintwork.

However the upside is that if you are seeking to do paint correction the Rotary is more suited to this type of work as it will allow you to take the paint layers down further and quicker than either a Dual Action or Orbital.

Many professional detailers use a rotary car polishing machines for both speed and where required for full paint correction details. However many will be the first to admit they started out with a Dual Action such as the original Porter Cables before moving onto the Rotary car polishing machines.

Dual Action Polishers

Image showing difference in motion of dual action and rotorary car polishing machinesThis unique action prevents the creation of holograms (symmetrical buffing marks), paint burns and other forms of paint damage often associated with rotary polishers.

The Dual Action polishing machine is ideally suited to light scratch and swirl removal and deep shine buffing – it would not be the ideal choice for the removal of deeper scratches where your finger nail “jarrs” when passed over the scratch (the finger nail test).

Orbital Buffers

These tend to have larger heads and dual handles that allow the machine to be pressed onto the paintwork. The also tend to work at lower speeds and have a single “jiggle” movement rather than spin.

They are ideal for applying product deep into the paintwork over a larger area and removing same (using different bonnets). They are however not as versatile as the Dual Action car polishing machines, which will allow the use of different size plates and pads and work at higher speeds, whilst being more user friendly than a Rotary.

The Dual Action as by its name combines two actions, one the rotating of the plate holding your pad and the other is the oscillation of the spindle. An easier way to understand this is comparing it to the action of the earth – which itself spins, whist at the same time orbits, or oscillates around the sun.

The motor on these machines directly drives the polishing head that fixes directly to the backing plate onto which you fix your cutting, polishing or finishing pad.

This means all the power, and there can be a vast amount of it, is directly driving the rotation of the machine down onto and across your paintwork – too much pressure and you can quickly burn through your paintwork.

Which Car Polishing Machine Should I Choose?

Your choice of machine really depends on what you want to achieve and your level of confidence (experience). The beauty of some of the latest car polishing machines is both the introduction of digital speed control and the lighter weight. The speed on some machines can be set in increments from 500 rpm to 3000 rpm, making them more user-friendly than traditional rotary machines. It does however still need to be treated with respect.

The Dual Action Car Polisher (DA) machines whilst not being equal to a rotary when it comes to paint rectification work, will produce excellent, professional-looking results with the added benefit that it is much harder to do any serious damage to your paintwork than it is with a rotary.

And lastly if you are seeking simply to save time and cover large areas the traditional dual handled orbital buffer may be the ideal choice.

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OPAVIOC Jewelry Polisher - Adjustable Variable Speed Bench Grinder Polishing & Buffing Machine, Dental Buffer & Lathe - Includes 6 Cloth Wheels, 2 Abrasive Fiber Wheels, Safety Glass, Polish Compound
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Bestseller No. 2
SPTA Mini Polishing Machine Buffer Rotary Polisher Auto Detailing Superpolish with 27Pcs Detail Polishing Pad Mix Size Kit Buffing Pad and 75mm ,100mm,140mm M14 Thread Extension shaft
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SaleBestseller No. 3
WEN 6010 6-Inch Waxer/Polisher
  • High performance 120 V, 0.5 amp permanent magnet motor
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Bestseller No. 4
wuyule Buffer Polisher - Variable Speed Drilling Polishing Kit, Car Polishing Machine with Removable Handle, Suitable for Polishing Cars, Furniture, Floors, Stones
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SaleBestseller No. 5
LDHTHOPI Buffer Polisher, 1600W 7 Inch/6 Inch Rotary Buffer Polisher Waxer, 7 Variable Speed 1000-3500 RPM, Detachable Handle for Car, Boat Sanding, Polishing, Waxing
  • 【Powerful Motor】With 1600W powerful motor and pure copper wire, this rotary polisher for car detailing has durable and strong power. Built-in carbon brush structure safety, long service life, will not encounter the orbital polishing machine stop working. Light body, easy replacement of carbon brushes. Heat resistant copper wire motor allows long working time without burning the machine. Constant power and constant speed function, more stable.
  • 【Variable Speed Control】7 variable speed control dial allows you to change the car polisher speed according to different applications and materials. Easily adjust your speed without stopping from 500-3300 RPM. You can use a higher setting on harder materials and lower setting on softer materials. Low speed (1-2) for waxing and buffing; Medium speed(3-4) for polishing and cleaning while high speed (5-7)for removing paint defects and oxidation.
  • 【Wide Application】LDHTHOPI buffer polisher comes with sandpapers, foam pads for waxing, wool polishing pads You can use soft or hard foam pads to finish different application. This rotary polisher is ideal for polishing, sanding, waxing, sealing glaze, removing swirls, shallow scratches, excess wax oil and defects from vehicles. You can also use it on furniture, ceramic, wood, aluminum, steel, tiles, plastic and more.
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  • 【7PCS Polishing Pads】Car polisher comes with 7pcs polishing pads. Coarse pads(wool>orange>black) are used for grinding; medium pads(yellow>red) are used for polishing and removing moderate swirls; fine pads(green>blue) are used for restoring the surface. You can contact us anytime if you have any problems and we’re willing to solve it in 24 hours.


  • Man and Van Cambridge
    Posted January 3, 2012 3:11 pm 0Likes

    Dodo Juice Machine takes my vote. One of the positive point is that it is the lightest weight in its category and speed can be adjusted easily. It gribs well in hand and less chance of slipping.

    I have one, and it is very reliable and long lasting. It consume less power and gribs very easily. The size of the pad is also very reasonable…remember. bigger pad tends to slip and are not good while doing the corners.

    • Fax
      Posted July 23, 2012 6:24 pm 0Likes

      Hey mate, thinking of getting one dodo juice, how has it been treating you in the last six months. Thanks faz

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