Polishing A Car With A Drill: How To Buff Cars With A Drill

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When it comes to waxing and polishing a car, there are two different ways to do it. You can either do it by hand or machine.

Waxing and polishing by hand is the most effort and will produce the least results.

Using machines is almost always the better option. However, there are a couple of different machines that you can use.

The most commonly used machines for polishing your car is a Rotary or Dual Action Polisher. However, polishing your car with a drill is certainly possible.

Is it the most effective method? Probably not but it could be better than doing it by hand.

In this article, I’ll explain why you may want to polish your car using a drill, what you’ll need, and how to do it.

If you can spend the money, you’re better off getting a Cheap Dual Action polisher, but I respect that not everybody can afford it.

Why Polish Your Car With A Drill?

Machine polishing offers a level of paint correction that your hand just cannot achieve.

With drills ranging from 500-2000 RPM and Dual Action Polishers operating as high at 8000 RPM, the machines will reach speeds that your hand cannot. This allows for a deeper paint correction while speeding up the process significantly.

You’ll also find that you’re less tired when using machines and drills.

Gripping an applicator pad and rubbing it on the panel for hours can be taxing on your forearms. You may also drop it and require a new, clean, pad.

Using a drill or machine polisher will be slightly less taxing on your body. Machine polishers are made to be held for long times, and drills, as long as they’re not 18v+ with huge batteries are still pretty lightweight.

The only problem using a drill to polish your whole car is the fact that it’s awkward to hold and manoeuvre. It only becomes worse if you have a bigger drill.

I found that polishing the doors and bumpers were easy enough, but as soon as I tried to polish a flat surface such as the hood or the roof, it became much more awkward.

Having a drill polishing kit is useful for everyone. Because the pads are much smaller and stick out from the drill, you are able to work in smaller spaces. They’re especially great for polishing alloys.

What you’ll need to polish your car with a drill

To polish your car with a drill, you’ll want to have a lightweight cordless drill. Any will do, however, I personally own this DeWalt Cordless Combo Kit.

Once you’ve got the drill sorted, you’ll only actually need a drill bit and polishing pads. You can get these kits super cheap, under $20, however, I cannot guarantee the quality.

This Fontic kit comes with 11pcs and boasts an average 4 1/2* rating with over 500 reviews.

Finally, you’ll need a polish. There are many different options out there, but for sake of simplicity I’m going to recommend using a one-step solution. My favorite being Meguiars Ultimate Polish.

After you’ve bought a drill, polishing kit and a polishing compound, you’ll be ready to give your car the mirror finish you desire.

How To Polish Your Car With A Drill

Polishing your car with a drill is very easy. Especially once you’ve nailed the technique and how to hold the drill.

Initially, you may find it to be very odd and disturbing, however, with time it will start to feel normal.

The process is very similar to polishing your car by hand, the only difference is that you’re now using a drill. Things become a little more complicated if you use a multi-step compound but for most, that’s not necessary.

Follow the steps below and your car will reflect like a mirror in no time:

  1. Grab Your Drill & Polishing Kit – Setting up is fairly straightforward. All you need to do is secure the drill bit in your drill and then screw the polishing pad onto your drill bit. Try it out before taking it near a car, you don’t want it flying off and damaging your paint.
  2. Apply Product To The Pad – Once you’re certain the bit and pad is secure, apply product evenly across your pad. Depending on the size of your pad, 3-4 small blobs will do.
  3. Spread The Product Across Your Working Area – Whenever you polish you should work on a small area at a time. Dab some polish even onto the area using your drill.
  4. Make Passes – When you’ve made sure there is polish on the pad and the panel, it’s time to make passes. Drills only have 1 speed, so there may be some sling, just make sure you’re working quick enough.
  5. Buff The Area With A Microfiber Towel – Once you’re satisfied with how the panel looks, wipe the area with a clean microfiber towel to remove any remaining polish. This will buff the area and let you see a more accurate idea of your finish.
  6. Repeat – Now that you’ve had a look at the true finish, it’s up to you whether to make some more passes or move on to another area of the car.

Making multiple passes will quickly get you into the law of diminishing returns. Unfortunately, especially with a drill, there’s only so much you can do.

Most light scratches and micro-marring will come out if you put the time and effort into polishing your car properly, however not all.

Click here and learn more about the types of scratches you can expect to see in car paint. This will help you determine whether or not you can remove them, or whether they need to be resprayed.

Better Alternatives

While using a drill to polish your car is a step up from doing it with your hand. It will take a while to get used to the technique.

Even then, there are better alternatives, especially if you’re willing to invest in the right equipment.

If you have the money, you should buy yourself a dual action polisher. I’ve already written an article on the best dual action polishers for beginners. This article will tell you everything you need to know to get started, including which DA’s are best to buy.

You could always purchase a rotary polisher. They’re much cheaper, however, they require a certain level of skills and the risk of burning through paint is so much higher.

Rotary polishers are used in professional environments because in the right hands, they achieve results the quickest.

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About the Author: JoshWilkins