Philadelphia Woman Tired of Lack of Female Auto Mechanics Becomes One

PHOTO: Patrice Banks, founder and CEO of Girls Auto Club, said she wants to educate and empower women with cars.Andre Stevenson
Patrice Banks, founder and CEO of Girls Auto Club, said she wants to educate and empower women with cars.

When one woman in Philadelphia was dumbfounded at the lack of women in the car mechanic industry, she decided to quit her job and start her own car shop.

Patrice Banks, 34, was a materials engineer and manager at DuPont for 12 years. She was a self-described "auto airhead," who would "rather get my nails done than protect an asset worth thousands of dollars" -- her car.

"My car would need an oil change but I'm going to get a mani-pedi instead," Banks recalled to ABC News. "I knew I wasn't the only one out there."

About six years ago, she said she looked for a female auto mechanic to find help, but couldn't find one. She decided to go to school to become one, taking classes at a community college on the side. After two years, she received a diploma in automotive technology. It's been a whirlwind of changes since then. In 2013, she started the Girls Auto Clinic, which offers workshops and consulting for women.

Banks said she wants to educate women so they feel confident taking care of their cars and avoid being swindled by the male-dominated car service industry.

PHOTO: Patrice Banks quit her job as an engineer and started Girls Auto Club in Philadelphia.Andre Stevenson
Patrice Banks quit her job as an engineer and started Girls Auto Club in Philadelphia.

"Do I need that air filter they tell me I need? How do I jump-start my car? I teach what everybody needs to know about cars," she said.

In January 2014, she quit her job and last November she released a book, "The Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide." She has traveled around the Tri-State area to teach Girl Scouts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and businesses who learn about her program. A female technician, Cirina Johns, moved to Philadelphia from New Jersey after learning about Banks' mission.

With an editorial in The Washington Post and a TED talk under her belt, next up, Banks plans to open up her own auto shop that caters to females and is owned and operated by women.

The anticipated business will have a "beautiful lounge" that's "welcoming and warm" and a nail salon, Banks said. Armed with a business plan, she has a location in the works in Philadelphia, and she has applied for funding.

"We want to be a destination place for women who will want their car to be worked on and to feel good about their car repairs," she said.