For nearly 12 years the Porter Cable 7424 was the only decent dual-action car polisher available. In fact, it was the first true consumer car polisher on the market.
That changed in 2006 when Meguiar’s introduced their G110 polisher.
These days there are more options than ever!
Let’s get started on making sense of it all…
Big Players in Polishing
Again, car enthusiasts have a lot of choice when it comes to polishers.
So, what are you looking for?
A machine with a proven track record?
The Porter Cable 7424XP has withstood the test of time. Very impressive indeed.
I should also give credit to Griot’s Garage for their long reputable 6″ Random Orbit Polisher.
Those two are solid choices, but there are others…
How to decide?
Well, this guide will help you choose the best electric car polisher for your needs.
I’ve decided to focus in on 3 well-known models because:
- They work and;
- They are safe.
As a seller and user of these products for many years, I’ve tested dozens of polishers, hundreds of polishes as well as polishing pads.
I know what works and what does not!
Stay with me!
If you stick with this page (don’t bounce) you’ll get the back story to these terrific tools.
This really helps with making an informative decision on a purchase.
Let’s begin with an interesting tidbit.
The Porter Cable 7424, and the improved XP model, are not really car polishers!
Both are actually what’s considered an orbital sander.
You see, furniture makers first started using the sander to put a final finish on tables and such.
One thing led to another and people started using it on cars. The rest is history!
Why did the Porter Cable 7424 polisher become so popular with auto enthusiasts?
The polishing action of a dual-action machine closely mimics that of circular hand polishing.
Just imagine this:
Being able to make 2,500 to 6,000 tight hand circles in a single minute.
If you can picture that, you’ll have a good idea of how these dual-action polishers do their job.
They really do work just like your hand, only at super-human speed!
OK, enough marveling about the technology.
Let’s look closer at features…
Evolution Of Dual-Action Car Polisher Features
Please Note: The car polishers discussed here (Porter Cable, Meguiar’s and Griot’s Garage) basically work the same way.
Hold on. That’s a good thing!
They’re so compatible that the polishing and tool accessories are almost all interchangeable.
With that said, here’s how differences evolved…
The original Porter Cable 7424 was fitted with a respectable motor for its size (3.7 amps).
Of course, motor sizes have continued to increase.
Consumers demanded more paint correction capabilities from their dual-action polishers.
Meguiar’s was the first to introduce a more powerful product with their original G110 polisher.
These days, all three manufacturers offer machines with 4+ AMP motors.
BUT, take it from me, more power is not always better.
The truth is excessive noise and vibrations can make more muscle a bad thing.
RPM vs. OPM
In any case, these machines function within a range of 2,500 to 6,000 operations per minutes (OPM).
This measurement is used instead of revolutions per minute (RPM). This distinguishes a difference between orbits and center shaft revolutions.
Does that make sense?
Basically, at 6,000 OPM, these car polishers are doing a lot of work.
Note: They are controllable by a thumb wheel on the rear end of the machine.
Industry Standard Car Polisher Attachments
A feature that made the Porter Cable 7424 the defacto standard was it’s use of a 5/16-24 spindle for attachments.
A lot of different attachments fit the Porter Cable. It’s so versatile.
For example, Velcro backing plates in many sizes and brushes (for scrubbing carpet) are available with a 5/16-24 fitment.
Car Polisher Ergonomics
All 3 brands have excellent ergonomic design built into them.
This is especially true for the Porter Cable 7424XP. It was vastly improved upon compared to the original 7424 model.
Here’s where the difference lies…
Only the Porter Cable has perfect speed dial placement. It’s on the top side of the unit, not the end.
That is a huge plus for me.
The ability to see the speed dial at all times is a very convenient feature.
You should also know this:
Porter Cable invented and patented the original oscillating head mechanism with a replaceable counterbalance weight.
In fact, the others are basically an adaptation of that design but without the same strength or versatility.
Car Polisher Size and Weight
All three units are fairly slim and trim.
In pictures, the Porter Cable 7424 and other dual-action car polishers look larger than they actually are.
Photos can be deceiving.
The machines from Meguiar’s Griot’s Garage and Porter Cable only measure about 10 inches in length.
Likewise, the units weigh about 6 pounds or so (with a backing plate and pad).
So how does this compare to professional rotary polishers?
Well, those heavy-duty machines are about double the weight. They’re more difficult to operate.
These 3 pro-consumer dual-action polishers are definitely easier to handle.
Car Polisher Handle Variations
Speaking of handling…
One of the big differences between the three machines is their handle.
Both Meguiar’s and Griot’s Garage have chosen a “D” style handle. This situates your hand over the top of the machine head.
By contrast, Porter Cable uses a reversible side handle.
The thing is…
Most people I know opt to use no handle at all. These machines work very well when you grip the top of the machine directly.
Hook & Loop Backing Plates & Foam Polishing Pads
The original Porter Cable 7424 car polisher came equipped with a single white foam polishing pad.
The standard foam pad was fine for light duty polishing and waxing, but not much else.
The eventual result?
A new industry was born.
Today, you can easily find Velco backing plates ranging in size from 3″ to 6″. These are suitable for these dual action car polishers.
A word of caution though!
The machines are sensitive to backing plate weight.
Deviate outside of the manufacturer’s weight parameters and you may experience higher than normal vibration.
The ideal Velcro backing plate size for all of these machines — for primary use — is 4.25″ to 5.25″.
I cannot stress this enough:
The size backing plate you use is predicated by the polishing pad size. Use a backing plate with a diameter .5″ smaller than the polishing pad.
This offers sufficient protection to avoid damaging trim, mirrors and paintwork when polishing in tight areas.
In addition to multiple Velcro backing plate options, you have a virtual cornucopia of foam polishing pads to choose from.
In fact, it can be quite overwhelming and confusing…
Things to Avoid
Are you just getting started?
I highly recommend following the advice of whatever company produces your favorite polish.
Yes, that’s right.
Polish and polishing pads work together to get the job done. Try not to mix and match. You may not experience the results you want.
Car Polisher Features Side-By-Side
Here is where you can really compare specifications. Easy comparisons!
Note: You may need to scroll left to right depending on the device you are using.
|Feature||Porter Cable 7424XP||Meguiar’s G110v2||Griot’s Garage|
|Direct Drive Eccentric “Dual-Action” w/ Counterbalance||YES||YES||YES|
|Motor Specs||4.5 AMP, 110 VOLT||4.5 AMP, 110 or 220V||7 AMP, 110V|
|Velcro Backing Plate||NO||YES (5.25″, flexible)||YES (5.25″, flexible)|
|Foam Polishing Pad||YES (fixed backing plate)||NO||NO|
|Power Cord Length||10′||10′||10′|
|Carrying Case||NO||YES (canvas bag)||NO|
|Warranty Duration||5 YR, Parts/Service||1 YR||1 YR|
|Manufacturers Suggested List Price||$249.95||$176.99||$129.95|
Based on the numbers, the Griot’s Garage polisher blows the others away.
My friends, numbers are deceiving.
I find no evidence the Griot’s Garage polisher actually has a 7 AMP (850 watt) motor.
I’m not sure how they measured it.
My meter rated it at 4.9 AMPs (full load). I attribute some of the current draw to the cord and the speed control.
Here’s the deal:
In actual use, all three units are very similar in the amount of power they provide.
Price is also an illusion.
The Griot’s Garage price is never publicly discounted, whereas the Porter Cable and Meguiar’s units are never sold at their MSRP.
The Meguiar’s G110v2 is frequently discounted to $149.95, and the Porter Cable even lower.
The other areas that make up the price differences include the backing plate (the Meguiar’s W68DA backing plate is the best in the business and retails for $35), carrying case and warranty.
A Word About Reliability
The Porter Cable 7424XP is backed by the best warranty in the business:
5 full years.
The reliability of Porter Cable tools is, without question, top notch.
Nowadays they have a no hassle replacement warranty. Further, their customer service staff are very knowledgeable and helpful.
There have also been some reliability related issues with the newest Griot’s Garage polisher, although nothing serious.
Meguiar’s: A Special Feature
Meguiar’s G110v2 does have one feature that sets it apart from the crowd.
Internally Meguiar’s calls it “cruise control,” which seem very confusing.
It’s an internal feedback circuit that measures speed loss due to increased load from down force placed on the machine. Almost instantaneously, the machine responds with more torque.
The result is the best random action polishing of the crowd.
Compared to Years Past
What do I even mean by “consumer car polisher?”
If you have visited an auto parts store in recent years, I’m sure you’re probably seen the kind of car polisher I’m talking about. They are two handed machines with the motor situated over the pad. Typically the pad is quite large (8″ to 10″), and they carry names like “Wax Master”.
These machines are really electric car waxing machines, not polisher.
In my experience, they have more buzz than bite. When it comes to doing any serious work, like removing swirl marks and scratches, they just can’t get the job done.
Even with the able competitors, the Porter Cable 7424XP is still the most popular polisher available.
The reason is quality and selection. You’ll find dozens of different prepackaged kits and bundles.
In With The New
Additionally, there is a new class of dual-action car polisher. It uses a forced drive system.
I’m talking about the Flex XC 3401 VRG. It’s worth considering!
Getting the Best Car Polisher Price
In almost all cases, you’ll find the best prices online.
I have occasionally seen the Porter Cable 7424XP on sale at Home Depot and Lowe’s, but then you still need to shop for a backing plate and pads elsewhere.
The Griot’s Garage unit is rarely ever on sale and Meguiar’s is regularly out of stock.
In general, pre-packaged kits and bundles offer the best overall deal. The best kits include polisher, foam pads, and polishes. Some offer additional bonuses, including towels, detail sprays, etc.
In How-To Use a Dual-Action Car Polisher you’ll find everything you need to know to use a dual-action polisher with shining success.