March 20th, 2013
09:32 AM ET
2 years ago

Presidential limo breaks down ahead of Obama's arrival

Jerusalem (CNN) - An official limousine awaiting President Barack Obama's arrival in Israel malfunctioned Wednesday but the Secret Service now says the reason for the mechanical problem had nothing to do with the type of fuel used, as first reported.

"The appropriate gas was put in the car," Ed Donovan, spokesman for the Secret Service, told CNN.

Citing an official in the region, CNN reported, as did other media outlets, that the vehicle had been filled with gasoline instead of diesel fuel. At the time, the Secret Service did not waive reporters off the idea that the car had the wrong fuel.

Donovan said the vehicle actually doesn't have a diesel engine and runs on unleaded gasoline. The Secret Service is generally tight-lipped about details of the president's limousine, otherwise known as "The Beast."

Because the vehicle was built on a Chevrolet Kodiak chassis, whose engine runs on diesel fuel, it was believed that the limo also ran on diesel.

The Secret Service says the diagnostics are still ongoing.

However, an Israeli official adamantly stands by the story that the limousine was filled with the wrong type of fuel.

The limo failed to start, and required towing in Jerusalem at 10 a.m. local time. Obama, who landed in Tel Aviv around noon, was not in the country at the time the limo was towed. A second presidential limo was brought to transport Obama.

"We experienced mechanical trouble with one of the cars," Donovan told a pool reporter traveling with Obama earlier Wednesday. "We don't know the cause."

"That's why we bring different multiple vehicles," Donovan said.

The tow truck company owner who picked up the limo said the U.S. consulate called him to tow the vehicle in Jerusalem because it wouldn't start.

Multiple official vehicles are typically flown ahead of time to destinations where Obama is visiting. On his trip to the Mideast, Obama will stop in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel, Ramallah in the West Bank, and will visit with Jordan's King Abdullah in that nation.

The presidential limousine is a specially built Cadillac that's estimated to weigh 8 tons. There are multiple, identical copies that are used to transport Obama around Washington and on his trips out of town.

The car reportedly features inches of armor and bulletproof glass, doors and windows that seal shut in the event of a gas attack, and special shocks to absorb blasts.

– CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Israel • President Obama
soundoff (230 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ critical thinking
    This story is bogus as to the reasoning
    -------------------------------------------------
    Prove it, if you can, in between your bouts of Fox induced paranoia.
    And while you're at it familiarize yourself with the definition of "syntax".

    March 20, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  2. ST

    Sarah Sidner, please stop reporting nonsense. You can not realise that you are making the same mistake the driver did. Please report what the trip is all about. That is what important for people to know.

    March 20, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I live in New York and I love America, but honestly, American cars SUCK!!! The President should use either German or Japanese instead.

    Ex: fully armoured BMW 7 series Li model.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Or....a fully armoured Maybach would be nice as well!...

    March 20, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Let something happen to our President over there Bibi and you'll see how close of an ally we are.

    March 20, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  5. Too True

    Just a bad omen of things to come.
    Obama's Isreal drip will be a foreign relations debacle.
    Like everything else he touches.

    March 20, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    And people still can't yet see between the fog?? The oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico suddenly blows up near the one year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. And while we're celebrating the end of the Libyan conflict without American casualties and with minimal amount of money spent funding this conflict, our embassy goes up in flames.

    March 20, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. BRB

    I tend to believe it was a deliberate act, the secret service agents assigned to the POTUS are highly trained in every detail, something so simple seems unlikely, then to have the vehicle towed, Hmm! something sounds fishy...

    March 20, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Stephen in VA

    Yay, more raw feed for the conspiracy theorists to latch onto. Really think it's impossible to get the wrong kind of fuel in a foreign country? Yeah, there's a reason the fact that the nozzles are two different sizes in the U.S.–we have plenty of people who'd make that mistake even when the pumps are labeled in English.

    But nah, I'm sure it's to cover up something. That's far more fun to talk about, right?

    March 20, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  9. ritmocojo

    "Sequestration" shows its ugly face.

    March 20, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. Patrick

    Aren't gas tanks and pumps differentiated as to what is able to be put in, based upon the size of the pump, and opening on the tank? I used to have a diesel p/u, and you couldn't put a unleaded pump in it

    March 20, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The driver refueled it using gasoline rather than diesel fuel.

    Who was the driver and did he find a new job ?
    -------------------------------------------------
    Yeah, who WAS the driver and where can I apply for his job?
    Lol!

    March 20, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Patrick wrote:

    Aren't gas tanks and pumps differentiated as to what is able to be put in, based upon the size of the pump, and opening on the tank? I used to have a diesel p/u, and you couldn't put a unleaded pump in it
    --------------------
    Different country. Different standards. But still, this "mistake" is just a little too blundersome for my taste. This one quacks too much like a duck.

    March 20, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy I could see them transporting FUEL from the states to Israel if the President had been, oh I don't know, let's say Dubya who was HATED world wide.
    Otherwise transporting fuel to a country in the Middle East just makes no sense.
    I'm in the auto industry. These things happen more often than folks know. I would think that being in a foreing country, different type nozzle, not marked like we're accustomed to here in the States would contribute to this HUMAN ERROR.
    Slow news day like Lynda/Minnesota said would serve to explain why we're even hearing about this.

    March 20, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    Just a bad omen of things to come.
    Obama's Isreal drip will be a foreign relations debacle.
    Like everything else he touches.
    --------------

    Not sure what an Isreal drip is but I'm confident that Obama's trip will work out just fine. Meanwhile, WalMart is holding a special on tinfoil. All you can carry for $1.00. Pull yourself out under that bed and hurry to your local store (there's a WalMart on every corner for folks such as yourself). It's a limited supply offer, though, and the way things are going today, I'm thinking you're gonna need all the tinfoil you can get.

    March 20, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. JIMBOW

    Well damm, If he dont know the difference between gas and diesel, sniffer must not be working, oh I forgot, The SS they only
    smell the GuGu Juice. Fire that driver, and give me that job. Hell I"ll drive that thing they call the BEAST at a discount,ah lets say$85.000.00 a year sounds fair and plus i AM GOOD WHEN IT COMES TO SENDING OUT THOSE CUTE LITTLE MEMOS FOR THE GUESTS, LESS THAN $277.000.00. HELL I WILL DO BOTH JOBS FOR $125.000.00 PER YR TAX FREE OF COURSE.

    March 20, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. Wake up People!

    Does anyone know what happened with the SCOTUS and the Voting Rights Act? I check FOX-Lite out daily but I haven't heard anything...

    March 20, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. empresstrudy

    No doubt Chris Matthews will be screaming about how Israel did this on purpose to insult His God.

    March 20, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. Colombian

    Yeah! now Obama is going to blame the limo breakdown on the sequester just like dirty Harry Reid did on the Senate floor yesterday.

    March 20, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  19. JT

    right, so there's only one reference to the source of the "diesel vs. gasoline" mistake and the official response is "we don't know the cause"... At least the headline doesn't jump to that conclusion yet.

    March 20, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    The President has been traveling worldwide and riding in that limo for four plus years and yet, this NEVER happened in any other country before. The President has traveled to advanced nations as well as third world nations and YET, this has never happened before. So why in Israel? No, I doubt one of our greatest allies in Israel had anything to do with it but why now? This incident makes the secret service look bad as well as the Israeli govt who is hosting our President.

    March 20, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    DominicanMama wrote:

    Slow news day like Lynda/Minnesota said would serve to explain why we're even hearing about this.
    ----------------
    This episode is reminiscent of the "accident" in Paris, when the limo grounded out and had gotten stuck in a gated driveway.

    March 20, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. Mike

    The SS brings it's own fuel for the limo. They do not use any foreign fuels. Go figure.

    March 20, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  23. Ferret out the BS

    Could be a very costly error, more training needed.

    March 20, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  24. TomVIO

    People here keep saying that Obama spends our tax money for his rides. How can all these people be so ignorant??? This is our President we are talking about. We (our tax money) pay him for doing the job which includes all traveling expenses.

    If any of you were sent on a business trip by your company, I am sure you wouldn't pay for your own rides... The company (which in this case is the country, we the people) pay for all work related traveling that the President needs to do.

    March 20, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. Thor

    The diesel hole is bigger than the gas hole, so the gas nozzle is smaller than the diesel nozzle. That means the gas nozzle will fit very well into the diesel hole. Simple mistake if you are not accustomed to it. It was a new design vehicle. And yes... the driver is highly trained to drive and shoot and kill. Not necessarily to fuel.

    March 20, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10