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Can You Use a Random Orbital Sander for Car Polishing?

random orbital sander for car polishing

It may come as a surprise to many car owners that you don’t have to wait in line to get your car polished. Yes! You don’t need special equipment either to apply the shiny coating.

You only need a Random orbital sander with variable speed and determination to finish the task.

Can you use a random orbital sander for car polishing? A decent Random orbital sander with up to 2400 RPM option is ideal for polishing. Other than that, choosing the proper polishing pad, disk size also helps to get the best result possible without visiting an auto detailer.

One thing to keep in mind, depending on the quality of your sander, the result may vary. This is also true for the level of polishing skill you have.

If you are a person who has excellent control over the sanding operation, there is nothing to worry about.

On the question of whether you should use electric or pneumatic, it boils down to your budget and preference of features.

Although, pneumatic orbital sanders have the most power output and are trusted by most professionals and DIYers. Alternatively, you can opt for an electric one.

One downside with pneumatic is that there are only models that support variable speed, which is very crucial to polishing.

If your sander machine operates on a battery, you will have the option to regulate RPM and cordless operation as well. For most auto enthusiasts, that’s high convenience for quick polishing.

What is the best speed for polishing a car?

The best speed for polishing a car would be 1750-2400 RPM, depending on the polishing product.

Some polishing product recommends speed to be between 2000-2400 RPM, and others can do well within 1750-2000 RPM. You could choose random orbital sander with variable speed for this task.

One thing to keep in mind, not to run the sander at high speed. It could warm up the polishing compound, which will leave a nasty burn mark.

The same goes for using too much low speed, and you will end up with swirling marks here and there.

Which random orbital sander to buy?

Before buying an orbital sander for your next project, ask yourself these questions.

Does it have enough power in terms of RPM? Will it accept the sanding pad size that you want for your task? Does it have the accessories and portability your job requires? Answer these, and you will have your perfect sander.

Although in some instances, choosing the right orbital sander can be more challenging than that. If you want the best sander, you should go for a pneumatic sander that most woodworkers and auto detailers use.

But the problem doesn’t end right away as you have a professional-grade random orbital sander.

You need to have a powerful air compressor in the first place to run the sander. If that’s something you don’t have, that would definitely add numbers to your total budget.

In this situation, a pneumatic sander cannot be a viable option for you.

Instead, you could go for an electric sander that can operate on a decent RPM range and have a cordless option. This is very practical for a small workshop, mainly does sanding, polishing, and buffing in a short-range.

Where to buy a random orbital sander?

Due to increased demand and wide application you can find a decent random orbital sander from your local hardware store. But if you are and a person who likes to shop online, Amazon could be a great alternative.

Not to mention the direct purchase from the manufacturer’s website. Although, you have to be mindful of shipping cost and time.

Is a random orbital sander the same as a dual action?

It may seem the orbital sander and dual action sanders are the same. But in reality, they operate differently.

A random orbital sander rotates and oscillates in a random pattern where a dual-action sander has a fixed rotational and oscillation pattern.

For the abrasive work and small polishing work, a random orbital sander works efficiently due to a change in the pattern when you regulate speed and pressure.

The Dual-action or DA Sander is great for large polishing work where a smooth and consistent moving pattern is the key.  

Do random orbital sanders leave swirl marks?

Random orbital sanders tend to leave swirl marks on the workpiece, especially on the hardwood.

Apart from that, a low-quality sanding pad, dust accumulation, and excessive pressure can also be the culprit for those swirl marks.

To avoid this, it’s a good idea to always start slow and hand sand or use a sand block afterward. If you are using a pneumatic sander, use the vacuum port to collect dust particles and try to keep as clean as possible while working.

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6 thoughts on “Can You Use a Random Orbital Sander for Car Polishing?”

  1. Mr. Martin,
    I never make comments to things on the web, but your thread really stuck out to me, and I wanted to let you know that. It was EXCELLENT in so many ways, and I appreciate it!
    I hope you have a wonderful day!
    Thanks again,

    • Hey Josh,
      It’s our pleasure to provide you with valuable resources. Please check out our other articles on orbital sanders, and you’ll love them as well. Take care.


  2. Hey Robert,
    I just sanded my hood to bare metal, primed, base coat and clear. Letting it cure. Will cut and buff in a while. I used a ryobi random orbital sander to prep the hood. It does NOT have a speed setting. I’ve only had the ryobi for a week. Worked fine. It sounds like you are saying if I take it back and trade up to one with variable speeds, it can be used as BOTH sander and buffer? Thanks.

    • Hey Dave,
      Yeah, Opt-in for a variable speed sander (so that you have better control over the sander) and use buffing pads. Air-powered sanders are better.


  3. I have a Ryobi’s 18V ONE+ Random Orbital Sander. (ryobi-s-18v-one-random-orbital-sander-tool-only_p6210660)

    I believe it has an OPM of 20,000. Would this be too fast? Or could I get away with using it with very little pressure?

    • Hey Adam,
      Thanks for the question. I wouldn’t use that sander for auto body works, because of its High RPM and OPM. Also, it doesn’t have variable speed settings (so, less control). Get one that comes with variable speed settings, and lower RPM,OPM.


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