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. Randy

    Sequester caused them to miss a payment . . . got repoed Isreali style

    March 20, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Boytjie

    GREGORY ADAMSON

    Gasoline is MORE viscus – not less- than diesel. Diesel is thicker than gas.
    ================================================
    Merriam-Webster:
    vis·cous
    vɪskəs/ adjective
    [more viscous; most viscous] of a liquid : thick or sticky : not flowing easily

    March 20, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. dreamer96

    On any other car you just drain the fuel tank and fuel lines and that is it..Then refill with the right fuel....But this is not the average vehicle....They should still be able to syphon/siphon or pump the fuel out of the fuel tank....

    I suppose the gas station signs were not in English?...Nah English is used everywhere..Right?

    March 20, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. snowdogg

    "its driver refueled it using gasoline rather than diesel fuel"

    Why would it not arrive fully fueled when loaded on the transport aircraft?

    March 20, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. Richard Miller

    Should have switched to bio-fuels or bought a toyota!

    March 20, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. newengland2

    It was inside job from Mossad, like they spy on our home land.

    March 20, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Bill D.

    The automakers put a bright sticker in the fuel inlet area that states "DIESEL FUEL ONLY". Proof there is no cure for stupid.

    March 20, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Tom

    Stuff happens. But it is a little surprising the Secret Service doesn't keep closer watch over that vehicle regardless of whether the President is in it. As others have said, I'm sure the fuel was transported along with the Presidential detail, not a gas-up at a local filling station. Someone used the wrong container. But the Middle East really isn't the place to be making those kinds of mistakes.

    March 20, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. John

    Sequester will be blamed no doubt. Too funny

    March 20, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. Nayr Rialb

    I guess the folks who are supposed to keep "the beast" running were furloughed.

    March 20, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. TNPatriot

    snowdogg

    "its driver refueled it using gasoline rather than diesel fuel"

    Why would it not arrive fully fueled when loaded on the transport aircraft?

    Because you do NOT transport vehicles in a closed vehicle (airplane, moving van, etc).with fuel in them as it is highly DANGEROUS and prohibited by law.

    March 20, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Rudy NYC
    Okay Rudy I learned something today from you and OR Chuck. Apparently the President carries his own gas with him. Thank you for furthering my education.
    I still like my Bush storyline much better though! (Wink!!).

    March 20, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. pace1983

    Hamas blew their opportunity, what a bunch of incompetents......

    March 20, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  14. Larry L

    @Donna

    Not a surpise.... Obama is breaking everything he touches. The economy, our healthcare system, our constitution, ...
    ==============================
    I only looked at these postings to see what ridiculous things the Fox News drones said to relate the event to the President.

    The economy – a recession started on Bush's watch and Bush issued the first bailout.
    Healthcare – Obamacare was a Republican idea (good idea) from the Heratige Foundation (Romneycare)
    The Constitution – Citizen's United, The Patriot Act, and the drone program were Republoican initiatives.

    Hate and racism blinds people.

    March 20, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. MJ

    In Israel the gas is filled by an attendant so it would have been the attendant who screwed up/

    March 20, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Hamas blew their opportunity, what a bunch of incompetents......
    -------------------------------------------------
    Please elaborate on what you meant by that.
    The Secret Service, I and many others are waiting and listening....

    March 20, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. txvoter

    it was the sequester!

    or bush's fault somehow right?

    March 20, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. bob

    Diesel? Should Obama's car be powered by solar panels and algae ? After all that is what he wants the rest of us to drive.

    March 20, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. Steve

    Sounds like a cover story. Cars that accept regular fuel have a unique nozzle recepticle that won't allow diesel fuel to be introduced, and vice versa. Ever try to put Diesel in your regular gas car? Nozzle and recepticle don't mate.

    March 20, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. vidal808

    That driver is a real doozy – how can he not know? Did they hired him off the street to drive our President? I hope there will be an independent Congressional full Investigation!

    March 20, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  21. Libertarian For RP

    Larry L

    @Donna

    Not a surpise.... Obama is breaking everything he touches. The economy, our healthcare system, our constitution, ...
    ==============================
    I only looked at these postings to see what ridiculous things the Fox News drones said to relate the event to the President.

    The economy – a recession started on Bush's watch and Bush issued the first bailout.
    Healthcare – Obamacare was a Republican idea (good idea) from the Heratige Foundation (Romneycare)
    The Constitution – Citizen's United, The Patriot Act, and the drone program were Republoican initiatives.

    Hate and racism blinds people.
    ----------------------------------------

    Seems "Hate" and "racism" is what is blinding you. Person can't even post facts without racist like you accusing them of "Hate" and "racism". "Obamacare was a Republican idea".....Guess it makes you happy to believe your very own LIES!

    March 20, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. CAT

    Is gas cheaper in Israel???? Why wasn't the care fueled before arriving there.

    March 20, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. Peace

    The writer of this article and most of folks have no clue what they are talking about. Ask yourself a question why multiple vehicles were sent down there?

    March 20, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  24. jac999

    Speculators might suggest that the diesel/gasoline snafu is a cover story for a far more sinister plot. They might theorize that the hapless driver is in truth an unthanked hero who saved the day. Fifty years from now the truth may provide material for a fantastic screenplay.

    March 20, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. NOON

    Obama... " WH is underbudgeted by sequester. We do not have money to maintenent all the limos but I pay from my pocket for $1Millions to play golf with Tiger Wood."

    March 20, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
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