If waxing by hand isn’t removing scratches and swirls, you need a power polisher. The detailing experts highly recommend these two models from PORTER-CABLE and FLEX. They are good machines for both beginners and experts who want that showroom shine. Let’s look at them both and see which one will be best for you.
PORTER-CABLE 7424XP 6-Inch Variable-Speed Polisher
The 7424XP is the model most recommended for beginners because it won’t burn through the clear coat or the paint. Why doesn’t it damage the finish? Because the clutch in the motor senses when there is too much pressure bearing down on the polisher, and it slows or stops the spinning of the disk. Using too much pressure is one of the ways beginners damage surfaces.
This kind of power polisher with a free rotating spindle assembly is the next step up from orbit buffers and working by hand. It’s great for waxing, putting on paint sealant, removing swirls, or polishing to a high-gloss finish. It weighs just 5-1/2 pounds, so it’s not too heavy to use on side panels, but it does get tiring after a while because of the oscillation and vibration.
The 7424XP oscillates, or jiggles slightly back and forth in a random pattern, as it rotates. Even with that kind of motion it’s not hard to control. The user can guide it with two hands on the body of the polisher, or place one hand on the removable handle at the side. The 7424XP has variable speed settings between 2500 to 6800 orbits per minute for use with different kinds of pads and treatments.
It comes with a 5-inch counter balance to use with 6-inch pads, but it does not come with a hook and loop backing plate like the ones needed for Meguiar pads. Any accessories with size 5/16 to 24 spindle thread will fit, and they don’t have to be manufactured by PORTER-CABLE.
More features of the PORTER-CABLE 7424XP polisher
- 3-year limited warranty, plus 1-year free service contract
- Comes with one polishing pad, a side handle, an Allen wrench to change accessories
- Measures 11.5 by 10.5 by 6 inches
- Cord length is 11.5 feet
FLEX XC3401 VRG Orbital Polisher Intro Kit
The FLEX XC3401 VRG is also a random orbital polisher, but with forced action direct drive and no slippage instead of a free rotating spindle. As a result, it’s a step up in power from the PORTER-CABLE 7424XP. It rotates and oscillates at the same time, which is why it’s called “dual-action.” The FLEX polisher has a wide oscillation of 8mm. It’s almost as powerful as a circular polisher, but it has the random oscillation effect which keeps the user from burning through the finish.
There are two areas to grip it—the bail handle up front and the tapered body itself. This two-handed position is designed to cause less fatigue. The user controls the speed of the pad with six settings between 160 and 480 rpm, and sets the oscillations between 3200 to 9600opm with a variable-speed trigger. FLEX recommends that a user new to their product start out at a lower speed until they are used to it. It is a little more difficult to learn to use than the 7424XP.
The circuitry of the XC3401 VRG has a soft start to minimize damage to the surface. It keeps the pad speed consistent under load, and shuts off the motor automatically if it overheats or the carbon brushes wear out. If the electricity goes off, the tool stays shut down until the user resets it with the switch. It won’t turn back on automatically when the power is restored.
More features of the FLEX XC3401 VRG kit
- FLEX offers a 1-year warranty
- Weighs 5.75 pounds
- Uses pads from a variety of manufacturers as long as they are between 6.5 and 7.5 inches in diameter
- More powerful motor draws 7.5amps
- The power cord is 13 feet long, slightly more than on the 7424XP
- Comes with counterweight, backing pad, three different foam pads, bottles of pad cleaner and pad conditioner, and a carrying bag
If you are new at using a polisher, consider getting the PORTER-CABLE 7424XP. It is easy to use, not likely to damage surfaces even when used by a beginner, and lighter in weight.
If you’re ready for a more advanced tool, consider getting the FLEX XC3401 VRG. It’s almost as powerful as a circular polisher but still protects surfaces from burn-through. It’s a step-up in power and can polish out more finish defects.