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Is a dual-action polisher better than a rotary polisher?

Mitch Avatar By: Mitch | Last updated November 10, 2021

polishing the side of a black car


Polishing the car is an important step in maintaining its exterior. Through this, the paint work will always be kept pristine and shiny. Scratches will also be removed with the right amount of pressure and the right material.

Polishing can be done either at home or with the paid service of an auto detailer. Usually, the former is advised for you to save on money and for you to have control over the whole process. For this, the most recommended tool is the dual-action polisher which can be bought in auto shops or online.

What is a dual-action polisher?

A dual action polisher aims to mimic the hand polishing method which is safer but slower when done manually. With this machine, you can create thousands of rotations per minute which makes the whole polishing process faster. It can also make the shine of the paint better, giving it the glow of a newly painted car. These polishers usually have a D-shaped handle that makes it easier to reach the edges of the vehicle with a larger surface of the polisher. It comes with gentle pads that can be replaced easily. Due to these specific features, generally when new users are trying to decide between rotary or dual action polishers , the choice will be dual action.

What are the benefits of a dual action polisher?

Ease of use

The main benefit for the dual action polisher is its ease of usage. After washing the car and drying it, users can simply add the rubbing compound on the pads of the polisher and start it. By keeping it constantly damp and gently using it, users can expect quick results featuring less scratches and better paint shine. Users also do not need to worry about accidentally burning or swirling their paint as this tool is gentle.


The machine is very user-friendly as it is designed to be used even at home. Because of this, it comes with features such as an automatic shutdown tool that closes the machine when it is used incorrectly as to prevent heat buildup and damage to the exterior. Some also come with a speed lock to prevent users from having inconsistent results in their polishing process. Lastly, some of these are also cordless and last for a long time simply on battery which makes it good for reaching the edges of the vehicle without much trouble.


The D-shape of the dual-action polishers makes it easy to hold for extended periods of time. This also makes the vibrations easier to handle. Through this, the right amount of pressure will be applied by the user as it will be easier to determine it in this way. Most units also come with comfortable grips that keep the unit firm in your hands even while it lightly vibrates. Finally, these come with durable covers that ensure its protection even when accidentally dropped while being used.

What else can you use other than a dual action polisher?

The main alternative to it is the rotary wheel or the single-action polisher. It is the choice for many xpert auto detailers and those with more expertise in polishing the car. This is because it does the job faster. It can also easily polish hard scratches in the car. Its main difference is that it only has one direction for polishing the car compared to the oscillating and rotating action used by the dual-action polisher. Because of this, polishing is faster. On the downside, it can easily build-up heat when used which can cause the paint to have holograms or burns on it. This is why it is not advised for casual users who want to polish their cars at home.

Which is better for a beginner? Dual action or rotary polisher?

In the end, it will all depend on the user’s expertise. As stated above, rotary polishers are faster and better at removing deep scratches. However, they also run the risk of accidentally burning the exterior and causing holograms to form. If you just want a gentle, risk-free, polishing process that still gives stellar results, dual-action polishers are the best option.