I would like to start this review of McGrath Automotive
particularly McGrath Ford in Hiawatha, Iowa by saying that this was not a review done in haste nor is it a anger filled response that I will regret l
particularly McGrath Ford in Hiawatha, Iowa by saying that this was not a review done in haste nor is it a anger filled response that I will regret later. This review has been written after much research, multiple personal experiences, and also from the input and I must be honest, opinions of many other local residents of Cedar Rapids along with their experiences. I want to make it clear that by no means am I disgruntled with the sales or finance departments because those men and women will go over and beyond if able. This review is for what I feel is probably the most important department of any auto dealership. The service department.
I originally purchased a 2019 Chevrolet Malibu from McGrath’s West Dale Superstore and was absolutely pleased with the process including the lengths that they went to that didn’t have to. It wasn’t until it came time for my Malibu to go into the Detail Center at McGrath Auto for Undercoating and Rustproofing that I started seeing the validity of some of the stories I had heard. I dropped the vehicle off at the West Dale Store as directed and was given a loaner vehicle. I was told that it would be about 1-2 days as the Undercoating would need time set and also because I was getting routine service performed. During this time, not once did I bug them and not once did they call me or consult with me. It wasn’t until after 4 days of waiting, and noticing on the Chevrolet app on my phone that my Malibu had been taken up to be Rustproofed and that was it. It had been dropped off at around 10:30AM the day I left it with West Dale Superstore and from there it never moved from where they had parked it. In the meantime, a large portion of my income was hanging in limbo because I could not use the loaner vehicle for my job due to having a dealer plate on it and not being registered to me. So after 4 days of sitting and waiting, I called the West Dale Store and they called the Detail Center and found that a “miscommunication” had led to them not even knowing my Malibu was there. Mind you, they were the ones that called me almost every day until I was able to set up a time to have Undercoating done yet they claim they didn’t know it was even there. So 3 days after that, I get my Malibu back, pick it up at West Dale Superstore, and it was filthy. There were fingerprints and smears from people or things that had rubbed against the car, the inside smelled like paint chemicals so bad that I had to open all the windows and let it air out enough for me to drive it home. On the drive home, I found grease smears and grease globs and fingerprints all over the steering wheel, turn signal, gear shift, seat belt, and stereo. There were no seat covers over the driver seat, nor paper mats on the floor although they could have been removed by West Dale Superstore when it was dropped off to them so I can’t honestly claim they were never there. This was the only issue I had with the Malibu however to me this was still not acceptable. It wasn’t until a very close family member started having problems with a Jeep Patriot they had bought from McGrath Auto and it was beginning to have one problem after another, and they depended this vehicle to get to specialist medical appointments as one of them had very advanced COPD and emphysema along with a crushed T-6 in his back. When this Jeep started randomly dying while driving, I talked to them about going back to McGrath and seeing what they could do for them even though they already had a loan out for the Jeep. The day they went to the West Dale Superstore, I went with them and once again the Sales and Finance guys did an amazing job of finding a way to get them a much more dependable vehicle which brought a lot of relief to them. They were sold a 2019 Ford Escape SEL, it was in very good condition, and was a much more dependable vehicle. They also added the Extended Warranty through McGrath Auto. After about a year with no problems, they were noticing that they kept blowing headlight bulbs, and at an alarming rate. It didn’t matter how expensive of a light bulb they bought they would only last about a week tops and then blow. Now I am no electrician, but that’s a little excessive and I would say there is something wrong. So it was scheduled for service at McGrath Ford in Hiawatha, Iowa. They explained to them the problem, and left it withthem. After a day or so of having it, they called them back and said that they didn’t find a problem anywhere except that they didn’t have OEM Ford bulbs in them and handed them the keys and said they were good to go. And then charged them over $300. They literally were in no better place than when they dropped the car off. Also as of the date of this review they still are still going through light bulbs like crazy. I also want to point out that the bulbs that they were charged $300 plus for were literally the same brand of Sylvania light bulbs they had in when they dropped the car off, the only difference being the $300 bulbs said Ford on them. Then came the routine service appointment for an oil change and they picked up the car and no sooner got it home and noticed it was losing power and wasn’t running right. The next day they take it back to Hiawatha and then find out that when the service tech changed the oil that they had extremely over filled motor with oil. However they said nothing about whether any of the seals or anything else were ok which I find concerning because overfilling the motor with oil can quickly cause seal damage or failure. Fast forward a few months and they had a tire blowout which caused a decent amount of damage in the front suspension. They had to replace the stock rim at a cost of over $900, and that was literally all they did. I personally went with to pick it up and upon driving it out, it would squeel the tires just barely turning the wheel which is a sign of joint failure whether it be tie rods or ball joints. I also noticed that the right front side tire seem to be toed out but figured must be the lighting. Now the squeeling made perfect sense. But they were once again told by the service manager as he handed them the keys, that they were good to go. I had my suspicions but kept quiet. So a couple of weeks later after having to baby the car, and having to find other ways to doctors appointments because they didn’t feel safe driving the car they were told was good to go not to mention still making payments on. I don’t understand how if they had taken the tires off, after being told they needed the front end looked at that they just didn’t notice anything else. When it was taken back again a few weeks later, it wasn’t more than 20 minutes after dropping it off that the McGrath Ford Service Manager called them and said they needed to replace the tie rods as well as the front tires because what little driving they had done after picking it up the last time had caused some pretty bad tread wear. So about another thousand dollars later they were handed the keys by the service manager and told they were good to go. And no sooner than the next day and there was still a clunking sound in the front end and steering issues that they had taken it in for in the first place. This was the last time they took the car to McGrath Ford because they felt they were shelling out money just to continue to have the same problems. And they still continue to have the same problems. I advised them to take the vehicle somewhere else. After looking at the vehicle I noticed that the nuts on the ball joints on both side were extremely loose which I thought could be causing the steering and clunking issues. After tightening them, it seemed to take care of the steering problems but it still continues to make a loud clunk when shifting and going over bump and turns. We also noticed that upon looking at their FordPass account, McGrath has not even documented any service work with Ford and it shows that no service was ever performed.
I know this has been a long review and I also understand that not many will read all of it but I felt it was important to include all the details possible. What really concerns and angers me is that just like many others out there, they are on an extremely fixed income and now a vehicle that they shelled out hundreds on to be fixed, still has not been fixed and they are making payments on a vehicle they are not comfortable driving. However the most concerning issue is that each time they came to pick up the car, they were handed the keys and told they were good to go by the service manager and they breathed a sigh of relief. But the fact of the matter is, they were never good to go. I don’t know about most other people but when someone who is in a management position and I would assume has gotten to that position because they once performed service on cars themselves, when they say I am good to go, a lot of trust goes into those few words. How many other vehicles are running around the Cedar Rapids area in the same condition but were also told they were good to go? Lulling someone false sense of security in these instances is not only wrong in so many ways, but its dangerous to everyone. I know I may be a little close emotionally but when I think about it, this truly should be something that should be addressed because these are big investments for people and I firmly believe that the protection of these investments has a big dependence on the service departments that are supposed to be making sure they are running properly and safely. In this case between being on a fixed income and also the fact that they had bought the extended warranty through McGrath, they felt stuck and still do. They have since bought a second used car to make sure they could get to where they need to go while the other car sits because they don’t feel safe in it. But yet the payments continue coming out, and the problems still exist. I work a lot with the general public and have been asked many times for recommendations on cars and dealers and I unfortunately cannot in good conscience even think about recommending McGrath and with them pretty much dominating the market here as well as the fact they the sales teams are phenomenal, it sucks I can’t give them a good recommendation. I feel my family has been taken advantage of as I’m sure many others are as well. I’m not a service technician but if someone brought a car to me that they said had steering issues from a tire blow out, I think I probably would have checked everything and not let it get this far. And for them, the damage is now done and they are now stuck with a car that they had trusted would be taken care of and fixed properly. But if you ask me, about the only thing McGrath seems to be really good at is handing over keys and saying You’re Good to Go...