Can You Use a Drill To Polish Your Car?

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using a drill to polish a car, yes or no, car detailing

Many car detailers who are weekend warriors don’t have a machine polisher. Hence, most people have a drill at home, which is great for various jobs. But, is it good for car polishing? Can you use a drill to polish your car?

Yes, you can use a drill to polish your car, but it’s much harder than with a machine polisher, and you are more likely to over polish or burn the paint. It is always recommended to use machine polishers for polishing your car.

Even though it’s totally possible to polish a car with a drill, I don’t recommend you do that if you have some other options.

Machine polishers are made with a purpose. If it were easier to polish the car with a drill, they would have never invented machine polishers.

That’s the general answer, but let’s dig deeper into this topic and see the exact reasons why using a drill isn’t the best option when it comes to car polishing.

Let’s see both why to use and why not to use a drill brush to polish your car.

Reasons Not To Use A Drill For Polishing

Here are the main reasons why I don’t recommend you use a drill for polishing your car.

1. Drill Is Not Made For Polishing

The drill has so many advantages and purposes, but car polishing isn’t one of them.

Drills are used mostly for construction, but there are also many ways to use a drill for car detailing jobs (such as using it with drill brush attachments to deep clean carpets and seats).

2. It’s Hard To Hold It Correctly

Drills are made in such a shape that it’s very hard to hold them correctly when polishing a car.

It’s hard to use the same pressure all the time and is almost impossible to maintain a 90-degree angle when polishing, like with machine polishers.

Drills don’t have some additional handles made for easier holding and better control.

3. There’s Only 2 Speeds To Choose From

Most of the drills have only two speeds to choose from, especially if we’re talking about cordless drills.

And even if they do have a variable speed trigger, it’s impossible to keep it at the same RPM all the time.

On the other hand, machine polishers usually have around 6 speeds you can choose from, which is ideal for polishing or buffing your car.

4. It’s Easy To Burn The Clear Coat

With a drill, it’s easy to burn the clear coat when polishing. It’s because of the first 3 reasons.

Mostly, it’ll happen if you don’t maintain a 90-degree angle and you press it too hard on the car’s paint.

5. You Can’t Use Large Sized Polishing Pads

With a drill, it’s impossible to use a large-sized polishing pad. So, you’re limited to using only the smaller ones, which is time-consuming.

I mean, you could use them, but it’s almost impossible. Using any polishing pad larger than 6 Inches is very hard.

6. There’s No Dual Action Drill

This is especially important for beginners. When you’re just a beginner to car polishing, you should always use dual action polishers.

There’s no drill that have dual action, they are rotary only.

Reasons To Use a Drill To Polish Your Car

As always, I’m trying to be very objective. There are some reasons why using a drill for car polishing could be a good option.

1. It’s Easier Than Hand Polishing

There’s no doubt, everything is easier than hand polishing haha. By using a drill, you won’t get tired so quickly, and will do the job quicker.

p.s. even though it’s easier, it’s not safer than hand polishing

2. Quickly Polish Small Scratches

If you have a very small scratch on your car, and you don’t have a machine polisher, it’s good to use a drill to quickly polish that scratch.

So, it’s only if you’re in a rush and you don’t have any other option at the moment.

3. You Don’t Have Any Other Option

If you’re in a rush and don’t have any other option to polish some things out, using a drill quickly is better than nothing.

However, don’t forget to be gentle.

RELATED: 5 Best Cordless Drills for Car Detailers (Under $200)

How To Polish a Car With a Drill?

If you have a drill or cordless drill and some polishing pad, and still want to use it to quickly polish your car, here’s how to do it:

  • Mount polishing pad to your drill (or the cordless drill)
  • Add some polishing paste to the pad (check my recommended car polish products)
  • Spread the paste over the pad using your fingers
  • Spread the paste on the scratches you want to remove – do this with the polishing pad while the drill is still turned off (tap to the car paint few times)
  • Start polishing – keep the drill straight (90-degree angle), and don’t press it too hard.
  • Don’t forget to work on small areas only.

Even though it’s a bit harder to polish a car with a drill, it’s still better than leaving your car scratched. We’re all car detailers, and we always want our cars to look great.

Using a drill to polish a car may not be the best and easiest method, but it can surely remove some scratches and bring back the car paint’s shine.

What’s The Best Tool For Car Polishing?

The best tool for polishing your car is – machine polisher. However, there are two types of machine polishers: Rotary and Dual Action.

RELATED: Best Car Detailing Polishers: For Both Beginners and Professionals

If you’re a beginner, you should always start with a dual-action polisher. With a dual-action polisher, it’s easier to do the polishing properly, and you won’t burn the paint easily.

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced detailer, you can use a rotary polisher. With a rotary polisher, it’s much quicker to polish a car, and you’ll get slightly better results than with a dual-action one.


I hope that now you have a better picture of whether it’s good to use a drill to polish your car or it’s not.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s good if you only want to polish some small scratches or want to quickly polish some small car parts, and you don’t have a machine polisher.

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What are your experiences when it comes to polishing a car with a drill? Did you get good results? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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