To get a great shine to any surface, most notably a car’s finish, dual-action polishers and buffers are the machines to use. Typically, a quality dual action buffer is easy to work with. That ease-of-use is what makes it such a popular choice among auto enthusiasts.
Also, the simplicity of use is a great benefit for beginners, people who don’t have a great deal of experience buffing and polishing out the finish of their car. This results in fewer issues that may have to be resolved later due to experienced hands.

Notable Mention

At its core, a dual-action polisher utilizes two different motions at the same time. This makes polishing a snap and a breeze. The backing plate spins in a circular motion. It moves around the axis. Then, there is an off-center connection that causes the backing plates to shimmy or shake. This creates small circular motions of the pad along the axis.

This is optimal when applying polish, wax, or for buffing out small scratches and other blemishes and imperfections. A dual-action polisher more closely resembles the natural motion a person’s hand makes when applying wax manually. There are several different names people use to refer to these dual action polishers, including off-center polishers, dual-action buffers, and ex-centrical polishers.

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Best Dual Action Polishers you can buy today

1
Meguiars Flex 3401 Ultra Polish Kit

Best Overall

Meguiars Flex 3401 Ultra Polish Kit
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9.4
Excellent!
Why we recommend Overview
  • If you’re planning to jump right in with the complete kit, then the Meguiars Flex 3401 Ultra Polish Kit is perfect for your arsenal.
  • It combines exceptional orbital motion along with micro-abrasive capacity to ensure you get out those pesky scratches and other blemishes from your car’s finish.

This kit comes with several polishing pads, a glaze, and an ultra cut compound. Everything you need to complete the job and have your car’s finish shining brightly is included in this kit. With this dual action polisher, you simply won’t need anything else to restore the luster and shine of your car’s beauty.

This kit comes loaded with the dual action polisher, ultra cut compound mirror glaze, the finishing polish, cutting pads, and microfiber detailing cloths. As can be readily seen immediately, there is simply nothing else needed to finish the job right the first time around.

Pros Cons

Considered safe and easy to use.

Comes complete with everything needed to do the job from start to finish.

Lightweight, durable, and provides aggressive rotation to handle even the most oxidized surfaces.

Price can be a concern for some people, but it is certainly worth the investment.

Its lightweight nature may demand a little extra pressure during application.

Features
9.5
This dual action polisher closely resembles human hand motion when you’re talking about polishing an auto finish. There is a great benefit to this as it minimizes holograms in the finish of the car, which can be problematic for some rotary buffers.
Power
9.3
The power of Meguiars is optimal and it offers a smooth running operation. That leads to a smooth and precise finish and a great polishing asset. With a positive drive, you are certain to get uniform movement across the surface, even if you are applying extra pressure. It provides constant lift as well, and because of the distance from the axis, there is greater motion, which means greater flexibility and a better polish and shine.
Ergonomics
9.8
The ergonomics of the Meguiars Flex 3401 is well-designed. It is based on a simple construction that allows the user the option of holding it close and tight with two hands together or spread out to offer a more even application across the surface. Even after many hours of continual use, your arms won’t be fatigued like they might be with other similar dual action polishers and buffers.
Safety Features
9.1
Safety appears to be a solid cornerstone of the Meguiars brand and continues with this Flex 3401 model. It is possible to accidentally hit the surface of the vehicle or your skin with the polisher running, but the design and ergonomics minimize safety issues. Requiring finger pressure to spin the pads generally means a safer product for these purposes.
Maintenance
9.3
Maintenance is pretty straightforward. Most of the wear and tear will occur along the pads. As a result, replacing the pads once they’re worn down is a key component to longevity. Simply put, the Meguiars Flex is built to last.
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2
Flex XC3401VRG-25 Dual-Action Polisher with Extended Cord

Runner Up

Flex XC3401VRG-25 Dual-Action Polisher with Extended Cord
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8.9
Great!
Why we recommend Overview
  • Technically speaking, it is considered a forced rotation dual action polisher and what that means is, although it does move like a DA machine, it does not spin freely.
  • This means the pad will not stall out, even under more pressure. That can be a great benefit for more experienced and seasoned users, but for beginners, this could be a serious problem that can potentially cause damage to a car’s finish.

One of the key benefits that the Flex XC3401 offers is the ability to polish curves and angles. One of the challenges other dual action polishers and buffers face when it comes to curves and angles is their tendency to stall out when pressure is applied on these areas.

That simply won’t happen with the Flex XC3401. At the same time, though, if you aren’t paying attention closely, the polisher could have a tendency to get away from you, which can cause some serious problems of their own.

Pros Cons

It won’t stall when used on hard angles and tough curves thanks to the forced rotation.

The Flex XC3401 runs cool so it is less likely to generate much heat.

It is a powerful, compact device.

Does not offer the smoothest operation.

Can be tougher to control and it can “walk” on you if you’re not paying attention.

It requires a good investment up front.

Features
8.5
The Flex XC3401 VRG offers an 8 mm orbital movement. It also provides solid protection to prevent damage to the motor as it will automatically shut down if the carbon brushes begin to wear down too much.
Power
8.7
It is a high-powered motor that gives it the flexibility to handle extreme loads. It is also optimal for handling tough angles and difficult turns as it won’t stall out on you, which can be common with some other dual action polishers and buffers. It comes with an accelerator trigger switch to give you that little extra boost of power in certain areas, when you need it. There is also a variable speed selection option for greater flexibility.
Ergonomics
8.5
Simply designed, the Flex offers an extra handle for a more balanced application. Due to the high power, though, it is possible to feel worn out and more easily fatigued in the hands and wrists, especially when working for a considerable amount of time on hard to reach areas.
Safety Features
9.2
The motor will shut down if the carbon brushes get worn too much. This is a great safety feature that helps to protect the surface you’re working on and the machine itself. The trigger switch is another safety feature that ensures quick shut down once you release the pressure.
Maintenance
9.5
This dual action polisher is simple and easy to maintain. Replace the pads regularly, when they begin wearing down. Wipe down surfaces after each use, and you should be able to use this for many, many years.
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3
Adam’s Swirl Killer Car Polisher and Buffer

Best Value
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8.4
Great!
Why we recommend Overview
  • For those looking for a great dual action car polisher and buffer that won’t break the bank, the Adam’s Swirl Killer could be the perfect solution. This one offers great quality in a small package. It is ideal for paint correction and smaller jobs, but it can handle a bit more than what it may look like on the surface.

With great correcting ability and OPMs (orbits per minute) up to 4500, this little package provides many quick motions that will help get the job done faster. With the dual action, the Adam’s Swirl Killer truly resembles manual motion of the hands, which is optimal for paint correction jobs.

This is one of those tools that have become indispensable for auto detailing experts and do-it-yourselfers who want something easy to use and effective.

Pros Cons

Incredible correcting ability thanks to its tight, powerful design.

Can throw up to 4500 orbits per minute.

Is versatile and can be used to scrub, polish, and restore other surfaces.

May stall more easily than some other models.

Not the most optimal product for tough angles and hard curves.

Depending on usage, may not be as durable as preferred.

Features
8.5
Overall, the Adam’s Swirl Killer is a great product for the price. A better entry level unit for the beginner or intermediate auto detailing enthusiast, it is also a preferred option for more experienced professionals who need a more compact detailing tool for their arsenal. Best for paint correction, this DA polisher offers an exacting precision that is optimal for most car finishes.
Power
9.1
Offering throw power up to 4500 orbits per minute, the compact design really gives the oscillation and shaking its due diligence. Offering quick motions and a tight rotation, quickly and easily dispense of scratches, paint blemishes, and other detailing needs. While there are some concerns about stalling under certain pressures, the versatility of the Adam’s Swirl Killer means it can be used to restore chrome, polish aluminum, and even work on diamond plate metals. It has also been reported useful in scrubbing carpets and upholstery as well as applying sealants, glazing, and wax.
Ergonomics
8.7
Compact and lightweight, this dual action buffer is easy on the arms, but can cause some discomfort over time in the hands and wrist due to the high rate of oscillation and shaking.
Safety Features
8.4
Not only does its compact size and trigger mechanism provide safety and quick shutdown, it also has a 25 feet power cord, which minimizes the risk of pulling or tripping as well as not needing an extension cord in many cases. The Adam’s Swirl Killer also provides speed selection, which helps to minimize error and damage to the working surface.
Maintenance
8.5
There are some isolated reports of backing plates separating over time, but this is after a couple of years of use. For the most part, the Swirl Killer only requires basic maintenance, such as wiping it down and cleaning it up after each use. Also, be sure to replace the pads as needed to ensure smooth operation and positive results.
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4
Makita PO5000CX1 Dual Action Random Orbit Polisher

Honorable Mention

Makita PO5000CX1 Dual Action Random Orbit Polisher
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8.6
Great!
Why we recommend Overview
  • For those who expect quality from Makita products, this random orbital polisher delivers once again. It is considered an excellent, compact tool that offers variable speed options from 1600 to 6800 orbits per minute.

What makes the Makita orbital polisher a bit different than some of the other dual action polishers is the ability to switch between forced rotation and free spinning. This provides users the luxury of two different controls and, with the variable speed selections, you get a wide range of options at your fingertips.

It has a short throw, so that means this dual action polisher is more designed for compact jobs rather than larger surfaces. It is unique in that it provides that option to switch between forced rotation and free spinning, and stands alone among the pack in that regard.

Pros Cons

The only dual-mode dual action polisher on the market.

The Makita name is renowned for high quality tools.

Lightweight and compact.

Can be considered by some to be on the pricier side.

Offers a short throw.

Power
9
With a max rotation speed of 6800 orbits per minute, the Makita certainly doesn’t lack power. It does have a short throw, however, which means it won’t cover the same surface area as other dual action buffers in the same amount of time. At 900 watts of power, it provides a burst of energy needed for correction, removing blemishes, and avoiding those pesky holograms.
Ergonomics
8.6
As far as dual action polishers and buffers are concerned, the Makita PO5000CX1 looks very similar to most other models, but the handle and trigger do provide a bit more ergonomic benefit. Without a wraparound handle, though, it can be a little difficult to control, especially for larger projects.
Safety Features
8.4
There is a trigger lock for continual use, but it also provides the built-in safety of relying on continual pressure to operate, which can be beneficial in many situations. Some reports have stated that without a wraparound handle, it can be difficult to control, especially when using it for an extended period of time.
Maintenance
8.9
Straightforward and easy to use, the Makita brand is synonymous with durability. That means there is little maintenance required to ensure proper operation and longevity, but it is recommended to clean it up properly after each use and replace the pads as they begin to wear down.
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5
Meguiar’s MT300 DA Variable Speed Polisher

Meguiar’s MT300 DA Variable Speed Polisher
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9.2
Excellent!
Why we recommend Overview
  • One of the most popular dual action polishers on the market is the MT300.
  • Ergonomically designed with a thumb adjustable speed dial, it is built for the long haul.
  • The multi-position handle also means better control along a variety of surfaces, including difficult curves and hard angles.

This MT300 model is the next step in the evolution of the Meguiars brand. One of the key advantages to this model over many others is the automatic increase in speed that the machine applies if it begins slowing down from increased pressure.

One of the key distinctions between the MT300 and most of the other models in this review is the ergonomic design. It offers a pistol grip and trigger switch that is more customary with rotary polishers than dual action buffers and polishers. That tends to provide benefit for heavy usage, such as with an auto detailing shop or enthusiast who desires to keep his or her vehicles looking their best almost every weekend.

Pros Cons

Affordable and powerful.

The ergonomic design is simply unmatched in this industry.

It offers a soft start to minimize risk.

Comes with auto speed control to maintain consistency even under pressure.

Cord reliability may be suspect.

Has a tendency to shake quite a bit.

May overheat and turn off automatically under difficult conditions.

Features
9.3
Affordably priced, the Meguiars MT300 truly delivers on just about every level. Its incredible ergonomic design is optimally suited for considerable usage. That means you can work on your vehicle all day or several vehicles over the course of a week and not wear out your arms as a result. At an almost entry-level price, it does offer one of the best bangs for the proverbial buck. The simple thumb adjustable speed dial and soft start trigger is perfect for the beginner or auto enthusiast who is trying to get a better handle on polishing and buffing.
Power
8.9
Packing plenty of power, the MT300 provides a soft start option, which is great for avoiding the machine getting away from you on the surface. This soft start helps users better control the device once it is kicking on. It also provides what some refer to as a cruise control feature where the machine automatically increases its speed when it begins to slow down due to extra applied pressure.
Ergonomics
9.2
There is simply no other dual action polisher on the market that has better ergonomics. With the adjustable D handle and design that is more comparable to a rotary polisher, the MT300 is designed for use.
Safety Features
9.4
The soft start feature is great for improving control when turning on the machine. The finger trigger and thumb adjustable speed dial provide even more benefit for safety, comfort, and control. The automatic increase in speed when under pressure can be a great asset for more experienced, seasoned detailing experts, but could potentially cause problems for novice users.
Maintenance
8.7
Maintenance is generally straightforward as the MT300 is built to last. Replace the pads, brushes, and wipe it down regularly, and this model should endure for years.
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Buyer’s Guide

It’s not that difficult to be confused when you’re talking about orbital polishers and buffers. That’s because there are different options. The two most common ones are the dual-action and rotary polishers. Whatever you call them, they are essential tools for auto detailing.

What is a DA polisher/buffer?

While rotary polishers spin in a single direction with forced rotation, dual-action polishers will wobble, shimmy, and shake while spinning, relying on two different directions at once. This tends to more closely resemble human hand motion when manually applying wax or a polish to the surface of a vehicle.

With a dual-action orbital polisher, the risk of causing damage to the surface of a vehicle diminishes because of that two-direction rotation. It is also a great tool to bring out the full luster and shine of a vehicle.

Some of the amazing benefits a dual-action buffer offers

While rotary buffers and polishers are more suited for working out scratches and other stubborn blemishes from the surface of a car’s finish, dual-action buffers bring out the luster and natural shine.

In fact, using a dual action polisher, a person has the potential to return the luster and shine of their vehicle to almost new condition. Even vehicles that have been parked outside for a decade or more can be restored to almost new-like condition thanks to quality dual-action orbital polishers.

DA buffers VS forced rotation polishers

A forced rotation polisher or buffer is also commonly referred to as a rotary buffer. This is where you have one direction of rotation or spin. As mentioned, this can be ideal when you’re working out scratches and other blemishes on the surface of a car’s finish, but a dual action buffer is optimal for finishing the job.

With forced rotation polishers, there is an increased risk of swirling patterns and hologram-like blemishes being left behind in the surface of the car’s finish. With a dual-action buffer, however, these risks are minimized and, with more experience, almost eliminated entirely.

Can beginners use dual action buffers?

Because of the dual action of these buffers and polishers, they are ideal for beginners. Somebody without any prior experience in auto detailing is at a greater risk of making significant mistakes that can cause serious damage to a vehicle’s surface.

With dual-action buffers, though, that second motion, the wobbling and shaking, means the pads will be moving more frequently over the surface, reducing the risk of burning the finish.

Most experienced, seasoned auto detailing experts also utilize dual-action buffers because of their great ability to fully bring out the shine and luster of a car’s finish, but they are still easy to use for the more inexperienced weekend warrior.

Is it possible to use different sized pads with a dual action buffer?

That depends on the unit itself. For the most part, a dual action polisher is going to use specific pads for the job at hand. Whether applying a wax, a cleaning agent, or polishing cream, different pads will be required.

As for different sized pads, check with the manufacturer to determine whether they can accommodate safely and effectively different sized pads. Some will be designed for that usage and others will not.

Why is RPM variability important to understand?

Depending on the flaw, imperfection, curve, angle, or other surface issues you are working on, it may demand higher OPM (orbits per minute). More commonly referred to as revolutions per minute (RPM) in layman’s terms and in other industries, when it comes to dual action polishers, it is generally referred to as OPM.

When you have variability of speeds and orbits per minute, it gives you greater flexibility and options to handle more difficult terrain, such as the hard angles and curves of a classic automobile or the deep lines of a modern muscle car.

Can you use a dual action buffer to sand wood?

This is actually a common question and there are some DA orbital polishers that can be used to sand wood. Of course, you are not going to be using the traditional pads to do this, but rather a special pad of sandpaper to work on other surfaces.

Some orbital polishers can also be used to polished chrome, clean upholstery, and work on other surfaces. Check with the manufacturer to ensure it can be used for these other purposes.

Are replacement pads for dual action buffers available?

Most manufacturers do have replacement pads readily available for the DA polishers they sell. You may also find aftermarket pads from other brands, but make sure they will work effectively and not cause any harm or damage to your dual action buffer.

Conclusion

Whether you are a seasoned auto detailing expert or somebody just beginning who wants to bring out the original luster and shine of their vehicle, dual action polishers are the best choice.

With the dual rotation, this will help to minimize any risk of burns or damage to the surface while helping to work in the wax and polish to bring the true nature of a wonderful shine out of the vehicle.

Whichever model you choose from the list in this review, they are certain to get the job done well and produce some amazing results you will be thrilled with.

About the Author
Steve Brown

Steve Brown

Hi, my name is Steve and I'm a car detailing expert.... Read more

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