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 suitable 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. The results are far worse, and that’s why I always recommend using 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. I have tried to use a car polisher for the drill, and it didn’t go well. It’s just not so practical.

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

There are many types of drills, and they have 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 it is almost impossible to maintain a 90-degree angle when polishing as opposed to machine polishers.

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

3. There are 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 six 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 three reasons.

It’ll mostly happen if you don’t maintain a 90-degree angle and 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. This is because car polish drill attachments are always smaller, and I have never seen a large one.

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 at car polishing, you should always use dual-action polishers.

There’s no drill that has a dual action feature; 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. Using a drill car polisher, you won’t get tired 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 don’t have a machine polisher, it’s good to use a drill to polish that scratch quickly. Polishing attachments for drills are great for fixing those tiny imperfections.

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 car polisher 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 polish your car quickly, here’s how to do it:

  • Mount a car polish drill attachment to the 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 the car paint a 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 – a 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.

If you want to learn how to polish a car by using a machine polisher, check my guide for machine polishing here.

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 minor scratches or want to polish some small car parts quickly and you don’t have a machine polisher.

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