When it comes to switches, all Toro switches are designed for the life of the machine. Period. Our goal and intention is to try and design our machines to be failsafe. This means that if you have a switch that allows for a connector to be accidentally pulled loose or a wire that could be cut, we want our machine to fail so that it's not hurting the operator. The question is, does this matter as much to a will-fitter supplier when they recommend replacement switches? Probably not.
A switch is a pretty low-interest replacement part for a lot of you, but here's the point. If a switch is used as a safety device that lets an operator know if the decks are up and the blades have stopped spinning, the operator counts on that switch to prevent himself or a co-worker from getting seriously injured.
There are several different variations in switches. At Toro, we design a switch that will work best for the application. Switches can range from 18¢ to $18.00. Today, Toro engineers are trying to use more switches that are sealed. Toro uses several switches that are magnetically operated for more reliability and less maintenance. The trend at Toro is to use a high-tech, non-contact switch in new models. The cost is higher than a standard switch but a non-contact switch is capable of performing more complicated tasks such as interfacing with on-board computers.
The majority of switches that are often most replaced are called "open" switches. Open switches - used in headlight or ignition applications - are not environmentally sealed. Open switches generally fail because the machine has been left outside where it is exposed to rain, dust and debris. Over time, open switches oxidize which means the two contact points in the switch will get rusty and the contact surface will no longer be conductive. The electrical current can't "bite" through the oxidation so there's no electrical arching and the switch won't work.
Switches can be designed with a wiping action which allows the contacts to open and close instead of just go up and down. This rocker-type action actually wipes across the contact points and breaks through that oxidized layer to prevent the switch from failing.
Specially design for Toro machines. - What makes a Toro switch better than a will-fit switch? Here's the key. At Toro, we don’t specifically make switches, we buy them from long-time, reliable Toro vendors. In most applications, we spec our switches to be made from both standard vendor components and custom-built components that are specified by Toro engineers. For instance, Toro engineers may call for a unique seal, custom lead or custom connector or a special actuator that fits a Toro mower better. The point is, the will-fit parts supplier can't know why Toro engineers specified certain components for a particular application - which could mean replacing a Toro switch with an inferior switch that doesn’t fit the application.
Not all switches are created equal. A lot of times people will rely on a will-fit replacement switch because the will-fitter may give the impression that the switch is equal to a Toro switch. The thing you may not realize is who's the person who is doing the equivalent comparison? There's a lot of design and logic that goes into selecting the right switch for the job. For instance, a will-fitter may look at the Toro switch and see that it's one-inch long and a half-inch wide and has a three-inch long actuating arm. But chances are the will-fitter may not have a clue if there are any special components inside the switch. So the question is: How does the will-fitter know it's going to work? Something you may not want to take a chance on.