2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Long-Term Road Test


2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Redwoods Road Trip Part 5

April 25, 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250

Uh oh. Just as the Avenue of the Giants was coming to an end, the above warning illuminated in our 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250's instrument panel. Initially, I wasn't terribly concerned since it wasn't as if I really needed stability control.

However, as I started up and around the cloverleaf on-ramp from the Avenue of the Giants onto CA-101, I knew something more serious was going on.

My first clue came when the transmission did not downshift as expected. A couple pulls of the left paddle corrected that, but then the throttle seemed to be working on its own schedule. The CLA's throttle isn't exactly the most feelsome and responsive to begin with, but this was different. Barely anything would happen initially before eventually kicking in with authority. If felt like I was driving a 1.0-liter engine with the worst case of turbo lag in existence.

At the same time, I was moving and it was easy to safely control while maintaining speed on the 101. When I went to engage cruise control, however, it didn't work either. That's when it seemed obvious to be a problem with the electronic throttle.

Frankly, I figured I could easily fix this electronic issue just as you would your wonky internet router: Turn it off, wait 10 seconds and turn it back on. It works for everything.

However, as I was 40 miles outside civilization, I figured that I'd hold off on that attempt until I reached Fortuna, home to actual services. As long as I was able to move safely with traffic, there was no need to risk the car not starting again on the side of the 101 or at some podunct off-ramp shop in the middle of a redwood forest. If things for some reason got worse, I could still stop and would be no worse for wear.

Thankfully, I reached Fortuna, and after a few harrowing stop signs with Mr. Sleepy Pedal (push down, one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, away we go!), I pulled into a Shell and turned the car off. Ten seconds later I turned it back on and sure enough, all the lights were gone, the throttle was back to normal and cruise control was functioning.

Phew, crisis averted. No need to find the Mercedes repair shop in Eureka (as if it exists), or drive 10 hours home without cruise control. Well, I hope. We still have another day up here.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor in Eureka, Calif. @ 7,056 miles

Comments

  • Ironically it seems that now that computers don't need rebooted so much (mine get rebooted every few months at most) cars are starting to need rebooted.

  • The warning message on the dash said to consult the Owner's manual. Did u check it out? I would have had the passenger do that while u were driving.

  • Debunker Debunker Posts:

    Roughrider almost become no-rider. Now you see why so many people buy Toyotas and Hondas. I have a feeling that your CLA250 is going to get a lot of garage time, sometimes even by choice.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    I guess M-B's legendary reliability is just that, a legend.

  • mrryte mrryte Posts:

    The more I read about the CLA250, the better the BMW 320i looks to me.

  • mercedesfan mercedesfan Posts:

    I wouldn't jump on the "MB's are unreliable crap" bandwagon just yet (their strong performance in all reliability surveys of late largely disproves that anyway). I'm not going to pretend they don't have a propensity for electrical problems, but flukes like this aren't uncommon for first model years of brand new cars. It is part of the reason to wait a model year or two for the bugs to be worked out.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    Well, it's nice to know you don't have to buy a used Mercedes super coupe to get this kind of "I'm going on a road trip will my car even make it back on its own power" experience. Comes that way brand new.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Desmolicious, I would be interested in what the manual says about that warning, but I would also be amazed if it was more than either (1) turn car off, wait 10 minutes, restart and see if light is still lit and/or (2) take to dealer for diagnosis. I would have done just what James did.

  • banhugh banhugh Posts:

    That's a hell of a 40 minute drive to the closest town with the worry of an eminent vehicle breakdown. This is why so many people prefer Honda/Toyota/Lexus. They want to trade the occasional 40 minutes of vehicle breakdown uncertainty with less luxurious feeling or handling/ engine performance for the entire time they own the vehicle.

  • kirkhilles_ kirkhilles_ Posts:

    My guess is that this isn't the end of this story. I'm sure it'll happen again soon and rebooting WON'T fix it next time.

  • diigii diigii Posts:

    I remember reading years ago about M-B mandated fewer electronics in their cars to prop their reliability, prompted by JD Powers' in that year's survey from being top 1 in the mid 90's falling to No 16. I guess that mandate was never followed.

  • boloti boloti Posts:

    Same thing happen to me.... Will take to the dealer this Friday....

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