By Jennifer Geiger on March 19, 2013
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.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer