The Difference Between Dual Action vs Random Orbital Polisher

Published on: April 9, 2022
Written by David Rowan / Fact-checked by David Rowan

Some say Random Orbital Polisher and Dual Action Polisher (DA) are the names of the same car polishing tool. Some say otherwise. So, what’s the truth? Are they really the same or different? 

Professional painters and detailers use both tools (and yes, they are two different polishing tools) for different reasons. The mechanism is different, so is the purpose of use. The aftereffects of both tools are identical from one another and the price too. It is important to know those differences to pick the right tool for the right job. 

dual action vs random orbital polisher

Dual Action vs Random Orbital Polisher

DA and random polisher look almost the same. So, it is quite normal to make mistakes to consider both tools as the same. Discussing the differences between both tools will minimize the confusion. So, here are the basic differences between both polishing machines. 


The random orbital polisher has a spinning or circular motion to its polishing disk. The plate spins like a drill in one place. It is as simple as that. Its action is concentrated in one spot only. 

On the other hand, Dual Action Polisher spins and revolves on an axis. For its dual motion, it is called dual action polisher. The best way to set an example to its motion is the earth’s rotation around the sun and its spin on its axis. This is how the dual action polisher works. It mimics the motion of manual hand polishing. It covers a bigger area compared to the random polisher. 

Effect on the Car Polishing

As the random orbital polisher covers a small area at a time, it leaves a major effect on car paints. To fix up major imperfection, paint scratches, swirl marks, and layer marks on the car body, the random polisher works like a miracle. 

Dual-action polishers on the contrary work on minor defects. Do you need to cover up fine hairline like scratches, paint defects, or buffing marks? Use the dual action polisher. It makes everything just seamless in a moment. 

Heat Diffusion

These two polishers diffuse heat differently for their different mechanisms. Random orbital polisher concentrates on a single spot at a time. So, when it heats up, it can not diffuse the heat to its surrounding areas. 

DA polisher covers a larger perimeter. So, it creates less heat and also diffuses it in a better manner. If heat production concerns you then you should keep this difference in mind. 

The Intensity of Polishing and Buffing 

The main job of a polisher is to polish, right? That’s what a DA and a random polisher do. But their intensity of polishing is different. The random polisher or circular polisher is used for intense polishing whereas the DA polisher is used for light polishing. 


DA polishers are two types-Force Rotation DA Polisher and Non-force DA Polisher. Force rotation DA polishers don’t change their speed or intensity if you put pressure on it. Meaning, you will get the same motion from it, but the intensity can be controlled. 

Non-force kind polishers will slow down or even stop if pressure is applied. So, you can’t really control its intensity. On the other hand, random polishers are typical and don’t have any classifications like DA polishers. 


Of course, random polishers last longer. These are ancient and almost irreplaceable once you have one and know how to use it. That is why most people find this polisher reliable and their go-to polisher to do all the job. This polisher is an old model but lasts for ages. 

DA polisher is much fancier and trendy. It is kind of newer in this industry and is gaining popularity due to different functionality. But no one can guarantee its longevity. The use of this polisher is somewhat limited. So, alone a DA polisher is never enough. 


Well, this part is a little tricky. Most car paint professionals use both. They start with a random orbit polisher for fast and strong moves and finish off using a DA sander. However, general car owners rely on random polishers mostly. They use this to fix almost any nicks, scratches, and edges from their car paint. As the budget is compromised for them, they just are mindful while using the random polisher. This polisher is used in a various manner to accomplish various jobs. But I can’t say that it is a multi-tasker tool. 

Can you use a DA polisher as a multi-purpose polishing tool? If it is a force DA polisher, then it is possible to use it instead of a random polisher. Just apply pressure at the beginning while polishing off deep and nasty scratches. Then use this very polisher for finishing off. Easy. so, how you utilize these tools is totally on your skill. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Dual-action Polisher Better?

DA orbital polisher and random orbital polisher are meant for different purposes. No one is better than the other one, but both are best in their own way. Does it confuse you? You can have both and use both for a complete finished look on your car. Or try one before and use it in a customized way as a proxy to another tool. 

Personal preference on using tools is one thing. But it shouldn’t define a tool’s performance. So, read the above features carefully to determine which one makes you feel better to use. 

What Does a Dual Action Polisher Do?

A Dual-action polisher is used where a light touch of polishing is required in large proximity. It basically erases fine and minor leftovers from sanding and rough polishing. Blending in sanding marks, buffing marks and edges, scratches and peeling are its line of works. A polisher gives the final touch to a car paint before applying a clear coat or wax to seal the color underneath. 

Can I Use a Random Orbital Polisher to Sand?

Use a separate sander like an orbital sander, belt sander, or even palm sander. But don’t use a polisher as a sander. The mechanism is all the same but the speed of a sander is far more different than a polisher. The sanding pad or backing pad, sanding papers, and variable speed of the sander are far more different than the polishing attachments of a random polisher like polishing and buffing pads and so on. 

So, it’s best to invest in sander and polisher separately to get the best results. Using the polisher as a sander may serve for a day alright but it is quite draining for a sander to use as a polisher. 

Final Thoughts

Lastly, it is best to decide on your tools after doing research and analyzing their justification. If you think you need both random and DA polisher, then please, by all means, go for it. But if you are planning to get one and use it for all the polishing needs, then you must consider the feasibility of both. 

Read more:

Rate this post

About This Writer

david rowan author

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Leave a Comment