A Complete Guide on Using Drill to Polish Your Car

Ollie Barker

Using Drill to Polish Your Car

Using Drill to Polish Your Car

As a car enthusiast, you want to take care of your ride and keep it looking new. The polishing job must be very familiar to you but have you ever tried using drill to polish your car? So I’ve compiled a handy guide that will show you how to use a drill to polish or buff your car.

Why Polish Your Car With A Drill?

A drill is used to polish car parts that are meant to be polished by hand, such as rubber cabinets. There are 2 main benefits to using the drill to polish a car.

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# Lubrication

The drill removes the old finish and surface particles from the part by spinning it against the surface of the metal. This will keep your parts working efficiently without leaving any damage to them.

# Scratch Treatment

You can use it to buff scratches out of your paintwork. This way you won’t need to buy a new bumper cover or grill.
You can polish the surface of your car by using a drill. It is safe and easy. It can eliminate swirl marks or blemishes and bring back the shine to your car in an easy way.

Read about: How often you should polish your car for a better look!

Things You’ll Need

  • Drill
  • Sanding paper (fine grit)
  • Car wax
  • Clean cotton cloth
  • Spare time
  • Water (optional)
  • Clean towel
  • Bucket (optional)

How To Polish Your Car With A Drill Step by Step

Step 1: Prepare Your Drill

Before you start polishing your car with the drill, make sure that you have everything you need.

Replace worn-out parts immediately to avoid accidents. Replace old brushes, old or leaking batteries and damaged cords. Make sure that your drill is in good condition before using it to polish your car.

However, if your drill is working well and this is the first time you intend to polish a car with it, you can skip this step and go straight to step 2 below.

Step 2: Choosing The Sandpaper

To begin with, choose an abrasive paper between 120 and 200 grit by your drill’s capabilities and load it into your drill. You can either buy pre-loaded sandpaper or choose the one that’s best suited to your car.

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Step 3: Keeping Your Car Dry At All Times

Avoid water and wet paint when using a drill to polish a car. If the paint gets wet, it will become sticky and make your car look worse. Apply some oil on the surface of your car after it has been thoroughly dried using a cloth that has been thoroughly dried.

Step 4: Start Polishing

Now, you can start polishing your car using the drill. Begin with an area that is less sensitive than others. You can start polishing from the cabin and moving to the boot lid.

Always hold your drill straight and polish evenly with little pressure.

Step 5: Buffing With A Clean Cloth

After some time, you can switch from sandpaper to a clean, soft cloth. After each area is polished, wipe it with a cloth. This will add shine and remove the little scratches left by the sandpaper. If you don’t have a cloth, you can use your clean hands while polishing with the drill to remove all the sand particles and polish your car.

Step 6: Repeat Until You’re Happy

It will take some time to polish the car up to your expectation. Be patient.

Check out this video to polish your car with a drill!

Reasons Not to Polish Your Car with a Drill

Even though I said it’s possible to use a drill to polish a car, there are drawbacks to using it as well.

There’s a common misconception among many people that using a drill to polish a car can actually damage the paint finish. I can tell you that this is normally not the case. But if you do it on purpose then yes, maybe you would end up damaging your paint finish, but I don’t think it will affect your car’s performance or safety in any way.

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However, there are some incidents where drilling might damage your paint finish. If you drill into a painted surface already covered with rust, it might cause serious damage to your car paint.

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Moreover, it’s hard to hold the drill for a long time. You can polish small areas, but the whole car is different.

Is Using Drill to Polish Your Car a Good Idea?

While a drill can be a versatile tool for various tasks, it is not recommended to use a drill for polishing a car. Using a drill for car polishing can be risky because the high rotational speed and lack of control may lead to paint damage, overheating, or an uneven finish. It’s important to use the right tools and techniques to achieve the best results while ensuring the safety and integrity of your car’s paintwork.

It is best to use a specialized machine called a car polisher or orbital buffer for car polishing. These machines are specifically designed for automotive paintwork and have features that prevent them from damaging the paint surface. Car polishers have a random orbital or dual-action motion, which minimizes the risk of creating swirl marks or holograms on the car’s finish.

Easy Car Polishing Tools

If you’re looking for easy-to-use car polishing tools, here are a few options:

  1. Microfiber Towels: Microfiber towels are excellent for various car detailing tasks, including polishing. They have soft and gentle fibers that help distribute polish evenly and remove residue without scratching the paint. Choose high-quality microfiber towels specifically designed for polishing to achieve the best results.
  2. Foam Applicator Pads: Foam applicator pads are perfect for applying car polish or compound to the paint surface. They provide a comfortable grip and a smooth application. Look for foam pads with a good density that can evenly distribute the product and minimize the risk of swirl marks.
  3. Clay Bar: A clay bar is an excellent tool for removing embedded contaminants from the surface of your car’s paint. It gently glides over the paint, picking up dirt, road grime, and other impurities. Rub the clay bar across the paint in straight lines using a lubricant or detailing spray. This process helps smooth the surface and prepares it for polishing.
  4. Dual-Action (DA) Polisher: If you’re willing to invest in a machine, a dual-action polisher is a highly recommended tool for car polishing. DA polishers have a random orbital motion that reduces the risk of paint damage and produces excellent results. They are user-friendly and allow you to adjust speed settings and easily swap out polishing pads.
  5. Rotary Polisher: A rotary polisher is a more advanced tool that professionals often use. It has a spinning, rotary motion and can correct severe paint defects. However, it requires more experience and care to avoid damaging the paint. If you’re new to polishing, starting with a dual-action polisher is best.
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Frequently Asked Questions

using a drill to polish a car

#1 What Is the Best Way to Polish a Car?

The best way to polish a car is by using the finest abrasive grade of sandpaper that is available in the market and then using a foam polishing pad.

To polish your car, buy an abrasive paper between 120 and 200 grit and load it into your drill. Then polish your car according to the steps mentioned above.

#2 How Do You Polish a Car in High Speed?

Do not use a high speed when polishing your car.

Polishing at high speed can damage the paint finish. For best results you should polish your car by alternating between high and low speeds to achieve the best results.

If you are using a drill to polish your car, then you should have an electric drill than a corded one. This is especially important when using a brushless drill as it generates heat at high speed.

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#3 What RPM Should I Use to Polish My Car?

The best rpm to use while polishing your car is between 2000 to 3500 RPM.

#4 What Type of Polishing Attachment Should I Use with A Drill?

You can use foam polishing pads or foam buffing balls designed for drill attachments. These are available in various sizes and densities to suit different polishing needs.

#5 Can Using a Drill for Car Polishing Damage the Paint?

Yes, using a drill for car polishing can potentially damage the paint if not done correctly. The high speed and lack of control can lead to overheating, swirling, or uneven polishing if too much pressure is applied or if the drill is used at excessively high speeds.

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#6 how Do I Prevent Swirl Marks when Using a Drill for Car Polishing?

It’s important to use a foam pad with the appropriate density to prevent swirl marks, apply even pressure, and work in small sections. To minimize friction, keep the pad and paint surface well-lubricated with a dedicated polish or compound.

#7 Are There Any Specific Drill Settings I Should Use for Car Polishing?

When using a drill for car polishing, it’s generally recommended to use the drill at a moderate speed setting. Avoid the highest speed settings to prevent excessive heat buildup and potential paint damage. Start at a lower speed and gradually increase if necessary.

#8 What Are the Limitations of Using a Drill for Car Polishing?

Using a drill for car polishing has some limitations. It lacks the random orbital or dual-action motion of dedicated car polishers, increasing the risk of paint damage. It may not provide the same level of control, efficiency, or professional-quality results as a specialized car polisher.


Finally, I hope you find this helpful guide. I don’t mean to do any harm so do not take a drill to polish your car in a negative way. Sometimes, we need to do things manually instead of relying on automated methods that are meant only for some part of the job. Just go slow and steady and use your imagination and creativity to make the best out of things.

Further Reading:

How to Polish a Car