Can you imagine driving your dream car with a bad engine, transmission, an alternator? Looks more like a nightmare! That is the approach many people take when they invest in a machine polisher.
You want to do a paint correction on your car and your focus is on looking for that perfect polisher. You are on a quest for that ultimate tool. You are perhaps having an endless internal debate between the Flex 3401 or the Rupes LHR 15 Legacy. Perhaps you are intrigued with the Boss polishers. But have you thought about what kind of pads you are going to get with your polisher of choice? Are you planning on getting enough pads so you are prepared to take on any unforeseen challenges?
I recently did a two-stage paint correction on a Black 2002 Jaguar XK8. When I was done cleaning and drying the pads I used for this project, I counted them. 13 pads! I used 13 pads just for machine polishing. I brushed off spent polish and abraded paint from my pads frequently. Still, I went through 13 pads.
If you have not guessed, skimping on pads is a terrible idea. People will ask me why they are not getting the results they desire with polishing. I often discover the problem comes down to trying to polish an entire car with two or three pads. This is especially true with black cars, where (with black colors) the flaws in your processes reveal themselves more.
Zack wrote a brilliant article addressing how many pads are needed. It was merely my goal to provide a real-life example of what can contribute to you having a better experience with paint correction.
In short, budget for pads! I would always recommend, if you have a budget that can barely cover a high-end professional polisher, purchase an entry-level polisher with an abundance of the appropriate pads. I guarantee you will have a better experience polishing cars if you take that approach. With a pad cleaning brush, the minimum I have used for a two-stage job, were 3 for mild compounding and 2 for polishing (with less abraded paint coming off). I recommend you have at least 4 of any kind of pad that will come into contact with abrasives and at least 5 of any kind of pad that will come into contact with a compound. If you are thinking of getting even more, I encourage that as well. I also recommend you purchase the appropriate pads for your polishers. Most pads are designed to work well and last longer with specific kinds of polishers (i.e. – standard DA, Long Throw, Forced Rotation, Rotary).