Fact Check

Does O'Reilly Auto Parts Advertise Flux Capacitors?

A flux capacitor was the key component of Dr. Emmett Brown's DeLorean time machine in "Back to the Future."

Published Mar 9, 2021

 (Miguel Schincariol/AFP via Getty Images)
Image Via Miguel Schincariol/AFP via Getty Images
The O'Reilly Auto Parts website includes a flux capacitor among its part listings.
What's True

The O'Reilly Auto Parts website includes a listing for a flux capacitor device.

What's False

The company does not actually sell such a device.

O'Reilly Automotive is one of America's largest retailers of auto parts, operating well over 5,000 O'Reilly Auto Parts stores across the U.S.

A behemoth auto-parts chain is perhaps not one of the more likely places one would look to for wry humor, but the company's website does host at least one in-joke -- searching the site for part number "121g" turns up a listing for a flux capacitor, the device invented by Doc Brown in the popular 1985 film "Back to the Future" that enabled Marty McFly to drive a DeLorean DMC-12 30 years into the past:

The 121g part number, of course, refers to 1.21 gigawatts, the amount of power required in the film to activate the device:



The O'Reilly website also offers some useful caveats and warnings to potential users of a flux capacitor, including that plutonium (needed to create a reaction that generates the 1.21 gigawatts of power needed by the device) is "not available at O'Reilly Auto Parts," and that the flux capacitor "requires the stainless steel body of a 1981-1983 DeLorean DMC-12 to properly function":

  • Time Travel at your own RISK!

  • Plutonium is required to properly operate the flux capacitor
    o Plutonium is used by the onboard nuclear reactor which then powers the flux capacitor to provide the needed 1.21 gigawatts of electrical power.
    o Plutonium not available at O'Reilly Auto Parts. Please contact your local plutonium supplier.

  • Flux capacitor requires the stainless steel body of a 1981-1983 DeLorean DMC-12 to properly function.
    o Once the time machine travels at 88 mph (142 km/h), light coming from the flux capacitor pulses until it becomes a steady stream of light, at which point time travel begins!

Alas, O'Reilly also informs would-be time-traveling customers that "This item is not available for purchase" and that the listing pictures a "Non-Functional Item Displayed for Entertainment Purposes Only."

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994 as a creative outgrowth of his wide-ranging interests in a variety of subjects (particularly folklo ... read more