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Once you have tried polishing your car by hand you quickly realize it’s going to take a long time and your arm is going to ache for days. It’s time to get a Dual Action DA Polisher.
The Porter Cable 7424xp is my top choice because of its value for money. I also have the excellent Meguiars Dual Action polisher MT300 which is the one I use most often but it costs more. These are both very well made machines.
I use a dual-action polishing machine for all my polishing and buffing needs. Dual-action is by far the best type. You can probably get your car done faster using a rotary polisher instead of a DA polisher but it won’t make much of a difference timewise.
The trouble with rotary polishers is that you have a much greater risk of damaging your paint because they spin around a single point as if they were attached to a drill. This results in a lot of friction on one spot and can result in burning that will damage your paint.
A dual action polisher wobbles around a moving center which preserves you paint as it covers a larger area and doesn’t generate as much heat.
I’ve only ever used a few different DA polishers in my life to any great extent so this isn’t one of those articles that compares the 20 best polishers. I’m just going to talk about the best polisher I’ve been using for years.
They are used by DIYers like myself but I have also seen both of these used by professional car detailers. So if you want to use them once a year or every day, these are a safe bet.
Porter Cable 7424xp
3,000 to 7,500 opm
Hi Tech / Faster / Lighter
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But where they really shine (pardon the pun) is when you use them for paint correction.
If your paint is faded and has lost its shine, you can use the correct type of pads and compound or polish to restore the shine. The effect can be breathtaking. I have seen 30 year old black cars go from a dull grey to pure glossy black in no time. The owner had thought the option was a respray but that would cost a fortune.
The great thing about the Porter Cable 7424xp is the value for money. For a premium brand it’s incredibly affordable.
Probably the best way to buy the Porter Cable is in a pack such as this one from Chemical Guys. It comes with plenty of pads to get you started. It also comes with a backing plate which is strangely missing from the polisher when you buy it on its own. Also, you get some products for cleaning your pads.
Both machines have adjustable speed which is important. The Megs has a wider range of speeds.
The Megs has a few very nice extra features over the Porter Cable. When you pull the trigger it slowly accelerates up to speed. This reduces the amount of polish that ends up slinging around on your clothes and on the car windscreen.
The Porter Cable will slow down slightly if you put a lot of pressure on it. The Megs is a bit more clever. It will detect the loss of speed and apply more torque to keep the pad spinning at the same speed. That’s a very nice feature in my opinion.
I also use a smaller 3-inch polisher to get into tighter spaces. I don’t use it very often though but it is useful when you want to polish off an area like door handles or along crease lines.
Features of the Porter Cable 7424xp
- Random-orbit, swirl-free sanding/polishing action
- Electronic variable-speed dial from 2,500-6,800 OPM
- Features a proprietary counter balance for use with 6-inch sanding/polishing pad
- Accepts 5/16 – 24 spindle thread accessories
- Features a 2-position (left or right) removable side handle for greater comfort and control
- Polishes surfaces to their glossiest without causing damage
- Fits a variety of standard random orbit sanders
- 6-inch diameter
- Designed for a variety of surfaces
Features of the Meguiars MT300
- ERGONOMIC DESIGN: Perfect combination of form and function while Multi-Position D-handle Improves comfort & control for all skill levels
- SOFT START: Provides easy control when turning on machine
- BILLET COUNTER WEIGHT: Ensures smooth, precision balance with increased durability
- DIGITAL TORQUE MANAGEMENT: Electronically adjusts torque needed to maintain loaded speed level
- UNIVERSAL THROW: Great for compounding, polishing and waxing painted surfaces
- Thumb adjustable speed dial – Wide 3000 – 7500 (Orbits Per Minute) speed range allows for faster compound and superior final polishing
Prepare your car for polishing.
Does your paint feel rough to the touch if you rub your hand along the surface while it’s wet? It’s a bad idea to attempt to polish your car while your paint feels like this. These fine particles of dirt and grit will break off and scratch your paint. The solution is to use a clay bar and an iron remover to clean your car first. Please read my posts on using a clay bar.
What Pads should I get?
Size wise a 6 inch pad is perfect. You can get bigger but I find 6 inch to be perfect.
How to use the Meguiars DA MT300 Polisher (tips from Meguiars)
Step 1: Compound – Dispense a small amount of Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound onto a clean Red Foam DA Cutting Disc. Set MT300 to 5,800 OPM. Work in a 2’ x 2’ section with 3 to 4 overlapping passes and moderate pressure. Keep the pad moving slowly over the paint. Re-apply as needed to remove stubborn defects. Wipe the compound off before it dries with a clean microfiber towel.
Step 2: Polish – Dispense a small amount of Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish onto a clean Yellow Foam DA Polishing Disc. Set MT300 to 4,800 OPM. Work in a 2’ x 2’ section with 2 to 3 overlapping passes using moderate pressure. Wipe polish off before it dries with a clean microfiber towel.
Step 3: Wax – Dispense a small amount of Meguiar’s Ultimate Wax onto a clean Black Foam DA Finishing Disc. Set MT300 to 3,800 OPM. Apply two overlapping passes with light pressure thin and evenly to all painted surfaces. Wipe off residue with a clean microfiber towel.
My car is polished, now what.
Protect your car with a good sealant. A wax can also be applied for a deeper shine. You must learn the proper ways to wash your car so that your don’t scratch the paint again.
Once you know to to clean and protect your car safely you wont need to polish it for a long time again.
What’s the difference between the Meguiars MT300, MT310 and MT320 polishers?
They are the same polisher. The only difference is the type of plugs and power for each country.
The Porter Cable does a fantastic job of paint correction. It’s powerful and not too noisy, although it’s not exactly silent either. Deep scratches and dull paint can be corrected once you use the right pads and cutting compounds. Add a sealant and maybe a fine wax and the effect will truly be jaw dropping.
For a more hitech polisher you should get the Meguiars product. It has some amazing features that will make the job even easier and give professional results. It’s also lighter which makes doing the sides of your car easier. The handle of the Megs is also in a better location in my opinion. Buy the Meguiars MT300 if you want to fix deeper scratches in less time.
Black & Decker own both DeWalt and Porter Cable.
Instruction Manuals PDF
Amazon USA link for Meguiars MT300
Amazon UK link for Meguiars MT320 Kit
Amazon USA link for Porter Cable 7424xp Kit from Chemical Guys
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