2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Redwoods Road Trip Part 5
April 25, 2014
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