Can You Use Car Polisher As a Sander?

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guy sanding the car

If you’d like to do some paint correction jobs on your vehicle, and you only have a car polisher, you probably thought of using it as a sander. But can you sand with a polisher? Should you do it? In today’s article, I’ll show you whether you can or can’t use a car polisher as a sander.

Key Takeaways:

  • Polishers can be used as sanders, but I don’t suggest doing that.
  • Sanding with a polisher takes much more time and effort.
  • If using a polisher as a sander, it’ll become dirty, and it may scratch the paint once you use it for polishing again.

The Difference Between a Sander And a Polisher

Below, I’ve broken down the primary differences between polishers and orbital sanders to help you understand their unique attributes and uses.

AspectCar PolisherSanders
PurposeCompounding, polishing, waxing, sealingSmoothening, paint removal
Spin RateUp to 4000 RPMUp to 12000 RPM
GentlenessGentle on car’s paintMay be aggressive on paint
AttachmentsCan be used for sanding with the right attachmentsCan be used for polishing with the right attachments
Dust CollectionNo option to connect to dust collectorsMany models can be connected to dust collectors

Can You Use a Car Polisher As a Sander?

No doubt, car polishers can be used for sanding purposes. You replace the pad, maybe even a backing plate in some situations, mount a new sanding pad, and you’re good to go. You can sand your car’s paint.

However, don’t expect to quickly sand the car since the car buffer isn’t made for sanding purposes. They operate at slower speeds, and it’ll take much longer to strip off the paint when compared to a dedicated sander.

Even though it can be done, I don’t recommend using a car polisher as a sander if you only have one polishing machine. It’ll get dirty, and the next time you’ll want to polish your car, the polisher will be full of paint particles, which may ruin your car’s finish.

So, if you decide on using it, thoroughly clean the car polisher after sanding with it.

How To Use Car Polisher As a Sander

If you decide to use a car polisher as a sander, here’s a quick guide on how to do it.

Guide on using a polisher as a sander:

  • Always wear safety equipment such as goggles, a dust mask, and protective gloves. Ensure your work area is well-ventilated.
  • Purchase sandpaper pads or discs that are compatible with your car polisher. These should be available at automotive or hardware stores.
  • Remove the polishing pad from your car polisher and replace it with the sandpaper pad or disc. Ensure it’s securely attached.
  • Before sanding the main surface, test the polisher on a spare or inconspicuous part to ensure you get the desired results without causing damage.
  • Start with higher RPMs since car polishers have a slower RPM compared to sanders. This will help you achieve a more effective sanding effect right away.
  • Move the polisher in overlapping, straight motions. Apply consistent pressure, but avoid pressing too hard to prevent uneven sanding or surface damage.
  • Periodically stop to assess the smoothness of the surface. Remember, using a polisher for sanding might take longer than using a dedicated sander.
  • Once you’re satisfied with the sanding, remove the sandpaper pad. Clean the polisher and the work area to remove any dust or debris.

Again, don’t expect miracles, and don’t expect that the car buffer will bring you the same results as if you were working with a real sander.

What Does Sanding Do For Your Car?

sanding a car to prepare it for painting

When you sand your car, you’re getting rid of all the paint imperfections (scratched paint, rust, peeled clear coat, etc.), and you prepare it for paint application.

As the name suggests, car sanders come with sandpaper at the end of the machine, which is used to smoothen the car’s surface and remove old paint to create a smooth canvas for the new paint to glide on flawlessly. If you give your car a new paint job without the sanding process, you will most likely end up with a paint job that is patchy and streaky.

Much like how painters use a primer as the base coat, this sanding process is necessary for any painting job to look as flawless as possible.

Orbital sanders come with many attachments, and you can also use them for polishing purposes. However, since they have a variety of different speeds, you should be aware of what kind of speed is best suited to polish your car without causing any damage.

What Kind of Sander Should You Use For Your Car?

A dual-action sander is best suited for sanding the car, also known as a random orbital sander.

If you use a standard orbital sander, you could be left with some deep imperfections in the car’s paint, which will make the painting process harder. This happens because they only spin in one direction. However, if you go for the random orbital sander, the surface will be even and much smoother without visible transitions.

The dual action of the sander allows it to move in two ways – it keeps going in circles for consistency while also moving in two directions to avoid sanding the car in one area only.

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