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What do you need to know before you buy a dual action polisher

Mitch Avatar By: Mitch | Last updated May 6, 2022

Dual action polisher on a black car


Dual action polishers are made for car owners who want to bring shine and luster to their vehicle’s paint from the comfort of their homes. This is designed to be used by amateur users which removes the need to pay for professional auto detailing services. These units can be bought from auto shops and from online shops. These also come with various safety and speed features to make the cleaning process faster and consistent. With all of this available, users should be extra picky when it comes to choosing the dual-action polisher that they will be purchasing to see if it will last long for them.

How do dual action polishers work?

Before choosing the features you want for the unit, you should first know how it works. Dual action polishers, as the name implies, uses two methods for polishing the car namely oscillating and rotating. This allows it to mimic hand polishing which is very gentle while still producing good results. With the use of the machine, users can do this for thousands of revolutions per minute. This allows it to fix any minor scratches and imperfections in your car’s paint. 

The other option is the rotary polisher. Instead of two motions, it only uses rotation to polish the car. Because of this, it easily builds up heat when used which results in burns and swirls in the paint if used incorrectly. Its main advantage is that it can gloss over deeper scratches and does the job faster. If you want an easier and more reliable way of polishing your car at home, dual-action polishers are more recommended. Rotary polishers are usually used by auto detailers as they typically have more experience in polishing cars. 

What are you using your dual action polisher for?

There are a couples of different features that you should look for in a dual action polisher. But before you do this you really have to be honest with yourself in your usage. Are you going to be using this to detail a bunch of cars regularly , or are you going to be what some might call a weekend warrior? Although the excitement of having a nice, defect free, paint job is a dream many people have; the truth is that it is a lot of work. 

So for our guide we will be looking at those who might do 1-2 cars a year. 

How does the dual action polisher feel in your hands?

Although everyone loves to buy things online these days,the truth is that a dual action polisher is best bought after you have had your hands on it. Although many people won't have one laying around for you to just try out you might have to get creative. Our best suggestion is to either go to a detailer that might let you take a look and feel their polishers, or to go to a store to get one in your hands.

As this tool will be rotating at thousands of rotations per minute, you will want to ensure that the polisher is something you can hold for at least 8 hours. Even if it is over a couple of sessions you will want to make sure it fits nicely in your hands.

Many polishers come with handle, or end attachments which can greatly increase the ease of use. If you just get one that doesn't work with your body, you will know it as your fingers, arms, back, and shoulders will feel it the next day. 

How many RPMs can it reach

Although it might be a bit of technical jargon at this point, RPMs stand for rotations per minute. You will want to find something that can be set between 2,200 to at least 6,000 RPM.

The reason that you would want to have the ability to choose the RPMs is because there are different general speeds that work best for your work.

For compounding and polishing you will want to be between 5-6,000 RPMs, while you want to be between 3-4,000 to apply wax or sealants. 

If you are looking to remove wax you would want to be in the 4-6,000 range.

So the ability to choose your speed, as well as having the dial to modify the speed out of your working range, is a pretty important thing to look for.

Brand Recognition and Warranty

While some people will look for the cheapest tool possible there are sometimes downsides to this. 

Sure you can get a no name polisher for around $50 plus shipping off ebay or amazon. But would you trust something spinning in your hands for not only your paint, but your own safety. We aren't saying that all cheap polishers are bad, just take your time looking for a good value.

The other aspect of a good brand that you should look for is their customer support and warranty. If you have to buy 2 or 3 $50 polishers, you could have just bought a good brand for $125.. 

We have done a full list and reviews of the best dual action polishers for beginners which take all of these aspects into consideration. For this aspect we really liked what we found when we did our Shurhold Dual action polisher review.

Overall Build quality

Have you ever sat in a chair that just didn't seem to sit right? Maybe it wobbled or the seat was really flimsy. This can be the same thing as in most things you can buy , and dual action polishers are no different.

As mentioned above, a good quality brand will make a good quality product ( most of the time ) . And when you have a disc spinning at thousands of times a second in your hand it is just something you don't want to risk.

There is usually a correlation between build quality and price, but there does come a point where it is just overkill. In our testing we found that above $100 is where you start to see the quality really improve, and then over $400 you get into a point where it is just overkill. If you are just doing a couple of cars with the polisher we suggest you spend less, but get something that feels like it will hold up a bit.

Another aspect of build quality is the weight. Sometimes the heavier something is the better it is, but with dual action polishers there is a thin line between heavy enough and being safe; and being so heavy it is like a workout to do a panel. So when testing out the feel in your hand, ask yourself if you could hold it out for several hours without feeling like your arms are ready to fall off. 

Conclusion to our Dual Action Polisher buyers guide

Hopefully you have found a couple of these points valuable to know about before you buy a dual action polisher. While reading can only do so much, it is good to have an idea about something you are going to buy. When we first started with dual action polishers we had no idea how many different things there were. But at its core, it is a rotary polisher that has another track that it runs. This reduces the chances of damage to the car and is much more forgiving for first time users. We have tried out both, and that is why we did our reviews on the dual action version, as it was just safer and less indimitating.