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How to Use a Dual Action Polisher – THE BASICS

Machine polishing can be daunting; there are horror stories of irreversible actions that easily alarm those interested in the subject. From knowing your limits and the simple techniques in this guide, you can put those stories to the back of your mind and get stuck in.

For a visual tutorial on how to go about this, check out our recent video here:

Before polishing, a full paint inspection is a crucial step to ensure you do not run into nasty surprises. Things like stone chips & lacquer peel are obvious defects to look out for – a polisher could potentially worsen these areas if caught. Damage can also be seen in less dramatic ways such as with Bird Poop staining! Due to the acidity of such faeces, naturally the paint will be thinner in the affected area, therefore there will be less paint to work with… A paint depth gauge is an ideal way to get an idea on the thickness panel by panel and can offer an indication of how much a bird poop stain has eaten into the paint surface or if areas have had filler and/or respray work. This tool importantly offers an insight into how much life is left in the painted surface.

Once you have an understanding of your paintwork, what polishing pad should you use? There are a lot of factors that come into play to determine the perfect finish, but to keep it simple, we’ll narrow it down to just two pads from our range: The Medium Cut Foam Pad & Maximum Cut Microfibre Pad.

The Medium Cut Foam Pad, as the name suggests, is made from foam. If you have light marring or swirl marks, this could be the ideal one-step pad. However, if you require something with a little extra cut because you have more severe scratches or paint defects, then the Maximum Cut Microfibre Pad could be the one for you due to its Microfibre material. The finish a Microfibre Pad provides is typically less refined so you’ll find you may need to finish with a softer pad such as the Medium Cut to complete the paint correction process.

If you opted for a Foam Pad, there is a pad ‘priming’ step required before you can dive into the polishing – this will ensure the pad is well lubricated, meaning there is less risk of marring. Simply apply a healthy amount (around 8 large pea drops) of polish to your pad and evenly spread it across the surface. Afterwards, apply around 4 blobs of polish to the pad for the main event. If you opted for a Microfibre Pad, the principle of priming isn’t as necessary but we’d still advise a first healthy dose of polish.

Ensuring the pad is evenly attached to the backing plate of the Dual Action polisher is crucial for a balanced experience. Having a pad applied off-centre will throw the feel and action of the polisher, further making your task more difficult. Once you are comfortable with the attachment of the pad, ensure the DA polishers cord is kept away from the vehicle paintwork, so as not to cause any additional marring or scratching. Dab your polisher (with the applied compound) across the area you wish to work on – this will ensure the surface has even coverage when it comes to working the polish in. After your dabs, start the polisher (always start & stop the polisher while it is in contact with the panel) at a slow speed and work the polish over the area with fast arm movements. Afterwards, increase the polisher speed and slowly move the polisher with minimal pressure in cross hatch motions for a pass or two, finishing by buffing the panel and inspecting your work. If necessary, complete more passes or switch pads to obtain your desired finish.

Is it your first time using a Dual Action (DA) Polisher? Practice where you’re comfortable! Old panels are perfect – you can usually pick these up at scrap yards. There are also plenty of tutorials, including our own, available on YouTube to make your life easier with the highest quality tips & tricks.

What are the differences between Dual Action Polishers & Rotary Polishers?  As a summary: A DA will oscillate as well as spin – this means it is more forgiving with its ‘cut’. If you push too hard, it won’t burn as easily through the paintwork. If you hit corners, it’ll stop spinning and just oscillate. However, whilst a DA may be more forgiving, for tasks where speed is of the essence it cannot match the likes of a Rotary Polisher.

For a visual tutorial on the basics of a DA, check out our video here:

We fuel your car care passion and offer you the ability to enhance the appearance of your vehicle, so you feel pride in the results that you can effortlessly achieve. ValetPRO is a trusted brand of choice for trade, retailers, professional detailers and car enthusiasts worldwide. Discover more at

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