When it comes to taking care of their cars, most women today depend on men for auto repair and maintenance, despite the age of female empowerment we’re living in.
For Philly native Patrice Banks, a former “auto airhead” herself, the time had come to get in the driver’s seat and take control of her automotive destiny.
The successful engineer left her six-figure job at DuPont and enrolled in a community college to become a mechanic back in 2014.
“I tried to find a female mechanic and couldn’t. There were literally five in the United States at the time and none near me [in the Philadelphia area],” she says. “ I saw it as an opportunity to go to school and learn.”
And learn she did. After finishing school, Banks went on to work at Guy’s Auto Clinic for the next three years as an auto technician.
“The whole perception in the culture has always been that cars are for men. ‘It’s not for me I don’t want to get my hands dirty,” she says. “But women can get it. They can understand it — it’s not rocket science.”
Banks then opened up her own auto repair shop, Girls Auto Clinic, in Upper Darby, which is not only staffed by a team of female mechanics but even comes with a beauty bar — so you can get your nails done while you wait.
“When I was at DuPont, my friend and I would go to a specific Jiffy Lube to get our cars worked on because there was a nail salon next to it,” Banks says of the inspiration behind the idea.
Aside from being a gifted engineer, “sheCANic” and entrepreneur, Banks also has the ability of explaining things in a way that’s easy to understand. The publishing of her first book this week, “Glove Box Guide,” fits in perfectly with her mission to empower women.
“I never thought I’d write a book — it wasn’t part of the plan. But it was an opportunity that came up and it’s a great way to reach every female driver,” she says.
In it, readers will learn essential items for their glove compartment, how to check the fluids in their car and why regular oil changes are so important.
“I tell women to think of their engine like a vagina,” she reveals. “The purpose of oil is to lubricate. Your engine has a ton of fast-moving metal parts inside, sometimes moving at 3000 revolutions per minute. Imagine all that going on without lubrication.”
For Banks, it’s all about sharing information in a way that’s not intimidating.
“There’s a lot of engineers who don’t understand this stuff. There’s a lot of men who don’t understand this stuff,” she says. “I love the quote from Albert Einstein: ‘If you can’t explain it to a 5-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself. Everything is about core principles.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 19, you’ll get the chance to meet Patrice Banks at the Philadelphia Free Library (1901 Vine St.) for a talk, reading and signing to celebrate the launch of her new book. Your ticket will include a signed copy of “Glove Box Guide,” a meet & greet with the Girls Auto Clinic Team, complimentary drinks (Peroni beer, Kemorene wines and a cocktail by QC Malt) and light bites by Brulee Catering.
For more information, visit girlsautoclinic.com.