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. rasPutin

    Having traveled around Europe I can understand what happened.
    Most countries have names for fuels that are confusing to Americans:
    In Italy, Diesel is called 'Gasolio', and gasoline is 'Benzina'.
    In France, Diesel is called 'Gazoil' and gasoline is 'Essence'.
    In Spain, Diesel is called 'Gasoleo' and gasoline is 'Gasolina'
    Fun, isn't it.

    March 20, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. Natch

    Gee, I wonder what the annual salary of someone who doesn't know the difference is, between diesel and gasoline??

    No biggy, as the Air Force always transports two limos for the Prez, along with all the other security vehicles the secret service will need. Trust me, you do NOT want to know what that costs!!

    March 20, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Not sure what an Isreal drip is but I'm confident that Obama's trip will work out just fine.
    Well, it is like a hypochondriac's post nasal drip except that it is real
    It is like when you're not having a good time some place; ya' know: this is a real drip.
    Your guess is as good as any Lynda!!

    March 20, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  4. Greenspam

    @Natch... yep. protecting our President is not cheap... Democrat or Republican President.. same cost.

    March 20, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. Tea Party Thomas

    White house don't make the taxpayers pay for the repairs. I suggest you hold a bake sale to raise the money.

    March 20, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  6. Sigh

    Once...JUST ONCE...I'd like to see an intelligent comment. This just shows the problem isn't the's the people electing the government. Yes I mean you.

    March 20, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  7. Otto

    No wonder, It's a Cadabolac (sic) GM cars will never be good as long as they think they have to be good enough!

    March 20, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  8. max33334445555

    when i first read the headline i was expecting something else blamed on the "sequester"....

    March 20, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  9. Doug McDowall

    Are they gonna let this guy fuel up Air Force One for the trip home? I sure hope not.

    March 20, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  10. Gravel

    1. There's no such thing as "bullet-proof" glass. The proper term is "bullet-resistant."
    2. The chassis that the Beast is built on does not determine the type of fuel; the engine does.
    3. Ms.Sidner writes in the opening paragraph that the vehicle was wrongly fueled with gasoline, but doesn't cite a source. Then goes on to quote Mr. Donovan - a Secret Service spokesman - who said, "we don't know the cause."

    March 20, 2013 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  11. bob

    W8a2nd wrote:

    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 |

    I agree. That car should be returned back to the U.S. and broken down like a shotgun and the parts sold off.

    March 20, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  12. Innkahoots

    The warranty must have expired the day before.

    March 20, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  13. goldfrog

    Showmanship. Christ had a donkey & colt. Obama's got a bullet-proof limousine!

    March 20, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. hotcupoftruth

    The combined weight of the US national debt and Obama's ego caused the limo to collapse.

    March 20, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  15. Steve

    Why is this a news story?

    March 20, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  16. Bob Klingenberg

    It certainly wasn't the wrong fuel. Both Air Force One and the presiden'ts limo do not use local fuel sources. Before any trip the fuel is drawn and stored in tankers that are under armed guard to protect from sabotage. His plane and limo are also probably the best maintained transports in the world. Parts are regularly replaced. They don't wait for issues to arise. Some mechanic (who has to go through serious securtiy checks) made an error.

    March 20, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  17. napppi11

    Who would let the President get back into this lime, is crazy. Not, now or anytime. Secret Service take the car to a shop in Jerusalem. Whose to say the car wasn't tampered with, all fun and games now, until something happens. So Stupid.

    March 20, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  18. Mike from Seattle

    Obviously, this won't be in Cadillac's next commercial.

    March 20, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  19. Deardj

    So, who gets to get fired for this...???

    March 20, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  20. DC Observer

    I hope our military uses the right fuel when they launch the bombers to Iran and North Korea

    March 20, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  21. Wes

    Not like anyone important was going to use the limo anyway.

    March 20, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  22. Freedom88

    I figured he would he driving a Hybrid. That tank probably belches more greenhouse gases than a semi-truck. I guess it is "Do as i say, not as I do".

    March 20, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  23. Bryan

    What a shame, now I guess the president understands what happens when things go wrong unprepared for. A life lesson learned in which we have all experienced this on a day to day basis!

    March 20, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  24. Billy davis

    I don't trust Israel especially when our POTUS is there.

    March 20, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  25. PA86

    Fourth Paragraph: "Donovan said the vehicle actually doesn't have a diesel engine and runs on unleaded gasoline." So why do so many comments on here keep talking about the car with the diesel engine?

    March 20, 2013 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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