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What Machine Should I Purchase As My First Polisher?

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The photo above is a great selection of polishers.  These tools play a major role in helping me achieve professional results when I am detailing.  Purchasing several Rupes polishers however is not a realistic option for most people starting out into the realm of polishing cars.  With that said, that does not mean you cannot achieve great results with a more cost-effective option!

Many of my first details were done with a Porter Cable 7424XP, using a 5inch and 3inch backing plate.  One of the reasons I mentioned this is if you budgeted for the polisher but not for the pads you are going to have a bad time detailing your car.  Not only are more powerful polishers more expensive but the pads that work with them are as well. Many times I see people starting off and picking up a more expensive polisher, but only using 1-2 pads on the entire car when they would be much better off with a more budget-friendly polisher and many, many more pads. I personally like to keep at least 4-6 pads per polishing step on hand.

In essence, you getting two polishers in one when you are picking up the Porter Cable with the 5″ and 3″ backing plates. Along with keeping a large enough budget to pick up lots of pads which will increase your end polishing results greatly. There is also a 6inch option with the Porter Cable, but it is not an option that I believe will give you good optimal control (stalling) of the machine.  It also takes away from its corrective power, negating the added size.

Below are some photos from when I performed a two-stage paint correction on a Prius using a Porter Cable.  I started with Menzerna FG400 with an Orange Lake Country CCS pad for compounding.  This was followed by Menzerna 3500 and a White Lake Country CCS pad for refinement. When using a standard dual action polisher, it is even more important to keep your working area small especially when compounding.  Map out an 11 x 14 space and do not stray from that area.  When refining you can extend your polishing area out somewhat further.

Also, the Gtechniq AP2 Ultra Soft Foam Filled Microfiber Applicator is great for polishing small hard to reach areas. I have found these applicators to do a quite admirable job correcting paint in hard to reach areas. You can use it for very tight/small areas, or if you want to avoid picking up a second smaller unit or a smaller backing plate/pad combo.

Here is a good first time machine polishing shopping list:

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Rodney Tatum
Mirror Reflections Auto Spa
Gainesville, Florida
MirrorReflectionsAutoSpa.com
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9 comments on What Machine Should I Purchase As My First Polisher?

  1. rlmccarty2000 says:

    My first polisher was a Porter Cable too. Now I would suggest a Griots entry level polisher that is close to the same price (as the PC) but has much more power to keep pad stalling to a minimum. If you don’t mind buying used there are tons of Rupes polishers on eBay at a big discount, just choose wisely. Look at pictures of the backing plate for signs of wear and that should help you choose a polisher that has been lightly used. Many people buy a polisher and only use it once or twice before deciding detailing is not for them.

    • i just got a griots new polisher the G9 not g15 so it should be wonderful, does anyone think its great for a Mercedes Benz sl55 amg black car with a blue heavy compounding pad and compound from griots fast correction cream!!! its my goal to fast this car in the spring

      • Doug Green says:

        Hey Everette, the machine will be fine. Getting a good result is more about pad and compound/polish combination. Mercedes clear coat is fairly hard, so you will likely need a compound with a good cut. I have a CLA45 and GLK, both have hard paint. Start with a light combination and work to something stronger until you find the right combination. I have found that either an Orange Hexlogic pad or Buf & Shine Uro Fibre pads with Sonax CutMax did a great job cutting the fine swirls and scratches. Following this step, I have gone with a white pad with either Sonax Perfect Finish or CarPro Essence. You will also need good light to inspect your work as you go. I have the ScanGrip penlight and it works very well. Once you go through all that work, I would follow it up with a ceramic coating. I like the Gtechniq Crystal Serum Light and ExoV4, easy to apply and work with and great results that last at least 2 years.

        Good luck!

        • Everette says:

          Thank you so much I’ll be using Griot’s Garage boss correcting cream with a blue pad buf&shine than finish with m205 on a white pad buf&shine uro

          • Doug says:

            Give the Boss compound a try with that Blue pad. Do a small section and check your results. If it isn’t cutting it you may have to move up to a pad with more cut.

            https://www.smsdistributors.com/collections/buff-and-shine-foam-buff-pad-collection

            If it is the US foam pads you are using, you may need to try a yellow pad. It is always best to start with a lighter combination, check your work and see if you need something stronger. I am in the process of doing my CLA45 again and that Benz paint is hard and difficult to cut. A good light is a must to check your work and you may need to hit the same spot with more than one pass. Good luck!

  2. John says:

    I started with a Porter Cable, too. I sold it to a buddy just recently. Even after upgrading, I used it for product removal with a microfiber bonnet over a big wool pad.
    Hindsight, I would recommend a Rupes 15. It would be a tool you would not need to replace. It is far more powerful and desirable to use. This would keep the hobbyist from dreading a long and arduous day of polishing. You will stay in the hobby and even do a neighbor’s car for fun(spoken from experience).
    It costs more, but I would have delved deeper into this hobby(for me) sooner if I had this one first. I agree with rlmccarty2000, so maybe try it with a buddy’s machine, first.
    Now, I have a Nano, Mini, 21, and a Mille.

  3. Dan Chapa says:

    I always recommend the PC for a beginner.

    It was the first polisher I ever used after the rotary, and I wish I had one back in 96 when I started.

    I prefer this over the Griot’s because the spindle housing is smaller, and makes using 3″ plate/pad set ups much easier to maneuver.

    The Porter Cable is also more reliable. While the lifetime warranty is nice, I’d prefer it to not break down to begin with. Not that the Griot’s tool is bad, It’s just my preference.

    With the abrasives and pads available today, it really makes the 7424xp a very capable tool, especially for someone just getting into the business, and even more for a casual user taking care of their own cars.

    I always try and start my jobs with it when ever possible, before I bring out the big guns (Rupes Duetto & Mini). I do this because it’s just so incredibly simple to use, comfortable to hold, durable, and inexpensive. Throw on some Some Buff and Shine Uro-Fiber pads paired with Menzerna FG400 and it can do some very nice cutting. Follow with a Buff and Shine Yellow Uro-Tech & SF4000 polish, and it leaves a perfect finish on every paint I’ve used it on. PF2500 and the yellow pads for “one step” enhancements… The options are almost limitless.

    It’s all there. Plus, if the defects are extra severe, the PC makes a great sander. This allows for extreme defect removal, compounding, final finishing, and sealing.

    If I had to use just one machine, the Porter Cable 7424xp would be it. Even better were the original 1st gen 7424s.

  4. Timothy Nagle says:

    Hi. Thanks for all your very informative and honest videos. It would be greatly appreciated if you can offer some advise on a introductory polisher. I’m retired and have the time and desire to keep our cars looking good. My cars’ paint are older but in pretty good. What polisher do you recommend within a $150 price range? I now use a Black & Decker 6” palm random orbital (WP900) with 4400 OPM and various good 6” pads. I’m reviewing either the Griots G9, Porter Cable 7424XP, or Maxshine 15m. I’m leaning toward the latter. Or do you think that the B& W should be sufficient. Thanks for your advise. God bless and continued health and happiness.

    • Rodney Tatum says:

      I like the Porter Cable 7424XP for your needs. The reasons are price, moderate upgrade, and versatility. It fits in your budget and many people do not realize how expensive accessories get. It is not the strongest of the options you mentioned, but a considerable upgrade. The versatility of a 3 and 5 inch backing plate, means you will have a better user experience in smaller areas where larger polishers will not work or frustrate you.

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