Oops! Presidential Limo Filled With Wrong Fuel

Cadillac-Pres-Limo-medium

President Barack Obama is in Israel today, but he's not going anywhere. The presidential limo, which was brought from Washington, D.C., for the visit, was disabled because it was accidentally filled with the wrong type of fuel. Multiple sources have reported conflicting information — either the diesel-powered Cadillac was erroneously filled with gasoline or the gas-powered car got a diesel top-off. General Motors spokesman David Caldwell couldn't clarify matters, saying only that GM is not permitted to disclose the limo's engine specs. 

Regardless, according to our friends at Car Talk, this could be a costly mistake — if accidentally filled with diesel, the tank would need to be emptied, and depending on how much made its way through the fuel lines, the fuel lines and possibly the oxygen sensors need to be replaced. 

Cars.com Executive Editor and resident gearhead Joe Wiesenfelder agrees. "It depends on how far the fuel got. If they noticed the error before starting the engine, it's as 'simple' as draining the fuel tank. The most conservative approach would be to remove the tank and ensure that it's completely clean. Diesel fuel is an oil that doesn't evaporate as gasoline does, so whatever's in there has to be cleaned out or burned off," he said.

We hope the president knows a good mechanic, but according to Wiesenfelder it might not be that simple. "This is no normal car. It says Cadillac on it, and even looks like one, but it was custom built, and reparability was probably deemed far less important than protection. Who knows if they could even remove the fuel tank? It depends on how the tank was designed and how the car is armored. The car could be a write-off for all we know," he said.

Editor's note: This post was updated on March 20 to reflect conflicting reports about the nature of the fueling error.

Related
Backup presidential limo on its way for Obama in Israel after fuel filling failure (The Guardian)
Are Americans Starting to Embrace Diesel?
Extreme Commuting: Diesel vs. Hybrid

Comments 

Skankzilla

Oops.

Pretty impressive fitting a diesel nozzle in a gas filler tube.

James

I'm confused, first you say it's diesel powered then u say it was accidentally filled with diesel... What's the problem?

Matthew

James,

They said etheir its a diesel that got filled with gasoline or a gasoline that got filled with diesel.they don't know what kind of engine is it the beast. Gm can't commet on that matter.

Samir

According to local reports it's a gasoline engine and someone added diesel. In Israel diesel and gas pumps have the same size nozzle.

rav on

I can't imagine the first family having to put up with the stench of diesel fuel and exhaust in their limo.

Dan

If I recall correctly the car is powered by a Diesel. With that heft it needs the torque or perhaps they chose a less volatile fuel. I imagine that fuel tank is a bear to get at given the tank like design of it.

Jerry Baustian

Ambulances and other fire department vehicles that may be exposed to flames or get close to flames are diesel-powered, because diesel fuel does not combust at such a low temperature.

So for safety reasons along, it would make sense if presidential limousines are diesel-powered. Plus, these vehicles are extremely heavy, maybe 4 or 5 tons, so they need the extra power of a big diesel engine.

Peppy

I think I remember reading somewhere that its based off the GMC Kicktop or something like that, so probably a diesel.

Dan

Who says it has to be gasoline or diesel? This is a custom built, high expense, special purpose vehicle. It could burn a fuel designed just for this purpose. Cost and general availability wouldn't be a big concern, so it could be something that is custom lab made, low volatility, high capacity, etc.

rav on

If it burned some exotic and exclusive fuel they wouldn't have gone to a filling station and the mistake would not have happened, right Dan?

Cowboy

For Peppy: It's a GMC Topkick. These box trucks can be diesel or gas powered. Actually there are as many gas powered Topkicks as diesels. Most truck rental companies (Uhaul, etc) use gas powered versions. The gas engines are 454ci. They have plenty of power for these large trucks with up to 24ft boxes and a full load. They can handle the presidential limo. All the main limos have always been gas, in the past. Of course, this could have been one more thing Obama has 'changed'.

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