March 20th, 2013
09:32 AM ET
9 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. PIZAN

    Ironic! Just like our economy!

    March 20, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  2. Fubarack

    These are the people who want to set energy policy, and they don't know the difference between gas and diesel.

    March 20, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. Carol Johnson


    Obama will blame the sequester yet again, LoL!!\\

    It was probably a republican donor who was the driver and tried to make things harder for the president by destroying vehicle that cost some 150 thousand dollars to build or more!!!

    March 20, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  4. Dumbpolitics

    Now we have to throw it away. Once it's out of American's hands anybody can put anything on the car. Where's the transporter when you need him? Which driver didn't know what kind of fuel to put in it.

    March 20, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Now Sniffit....... You know good and well RWNJ's can't read......."

    So THATs why they keep repeating over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again the same garbage. They've got it memorized, no matter the occasion ... er, I mean ... article? Gotcha.

    March 20, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. W8a2nd

    Bring that car back and rip it apart to find any planted espionage devices. Cannot be too careful in that neck of the woods.

    March 20, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Government dependence and blind obedience enslaves people
    "Denying independent thought and blind obedience to a party/authority is what enslaves people"

    By definition, nonconforming ideas and independent thought are a threat to conservative because it brings about CHANGE.

    March 20, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  8. Scott

    And the stupid, racist comments from Teabagging terrorists continue. Such a sad commentary on our country!

    March 20, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  9. Cat

    So diesel engines run on compressed air ??? Amazing!

    March 20, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. John W

    Go figure. He's riding in a car running on diesel. So much for being green!

    March 20, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Tony in Maine

    @ Fubareck – I really doubt the Secret Service chauffeurs are setting any policy. But facts don't make for yet another right wing snark does it?

    March 20, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. John W

    We Americans are going to get to pick up the bill on this one. Caddys aren't known to be cheap to fix.

    March 20, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. Marie MD

    Hey, it could have been worse if it had broken down in DC during rush hour. That would have meant longer road blocks and more unhappy commuters.
    @pizan, unemployment is down to 6.5%, I believe. The DOW is over 14,500, the housing market is improving.
    The only ones NOT doing their job is congress!!! Easter is coming so they will take off two weeks while the regular Fed employees might get to take Good Friday as a vacation day and most of us have to work.

    March 20, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. MJ19

    I wonder why Sara Sidner refuses to call President Obama...President?? It's all just "Obama". Nothing like a Disgraceful CNN reporter.

    March 20, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  15. Larry L


    Government dependence and blind obedience enslaves people.
    As a very long-career Soldier I earned my right to call myself a patriot. Unlike the majority of the Tea Party radicals I'm proud of the Nation we've built and do not spend my life attacking our elected leadership. It's our duty to give our sincere input, but those true to the American spirit do not allow racism and mindless conspiracies to make us hateful bigots.

    March 20, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  16. awaiting moderation

    Should get a Honda.

    March 20, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. awaiting moderation

    Better keep him away from Air Force One.

    March 20, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  18. BiBi

    Poor guy... this limo driver will go down in history as the driver who filled up the leader of the free world's car with the wrong fuel. I can't imagine how he will explain to a future potential employer, "why did he leave his last job?"

    March 20, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. Matt

    Aright, how much stimulus money will THIS take to replace?? At least a vehicle can't file for bankruptcy.

    March 20, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    They bring in their own fuel and it is sealed. Secret Service gave Obama bad service!!!!!!

    March 20, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. vbscript2

    "@pizan, unemployment is down to 6.5%, I believe."

    You believe incorrectly. It's 7.7%, just slightly under the figure that Obama told us it would never go above if we passed his stimulus package 4 years ago (which was 8%.) 6.5% is the figure that the Fed has said they don't plan to stop devaluing your bank accounts, retirement accounts, and paychecks until it gets down to. At rate the economy has been 'improving' under Obama, that's still at least a couple of years out.

    March 20, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  22. Alex

    Just a economic driver who wanted to save money by buying a cheaper brand of fuel. lol

    March 20, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. Nicholas Smith

    The Secret Service ought to sing that old song, "Gasoline Gus and His Jitney Bus" to the driver every time they see him. That's a pretty dumb thing to do, is to put gasoline in a diesel car's tank. Almost everybody knows better, but it happens.

    March 20, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. lerianis

    Now, how the hell would an experienced driver for diplomats fuel a car with the wrong type of fuel? Just insane.

    March 20, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  25. Dr. Phil

    Why not report WHY it took Obama 5 YEARS to get around to visiting our closest friend in the Middle East.

    March 20, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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