By Jessica Dean
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Do you need a new air filter?
Is it time for new brakes?
A lot of people, especially women, don’t know the answer and don’t even want to think about going to the mechanic!
Meet the Philadelphia woman who calls herself a “she-canic” on a mission is to empower women one oil change at a time.
For many women a peek under the hood of a car looks like the landscape of another planet.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
“We’re smart enough to know this stuff, trust me ladies,” Patrice Banks tells women who come to her to learn about auto maintenance.
Banks started Girls Auto Clinic here in Philadelphia.
During free monthly lessons she shows women how to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to repairs.
“I’m gonna show you an easy way to replace your filter, most cars you can do it yourself,” instructs Banks.
“There are little clamps, you don’t even need tools.”
A woman in a male dominated mechanics industry, Banks walks with confidence in her signature red stilettos that she calls her work shoes.
“It’s being told, ‘no, that’s for the guys’ and so we think, ‘oh we can’t do it’ and I’m here to say yes you can,” says Banks.
From brake pads to hoses to fluids she is fluent in engine.
“You hear it, you’ll hear a humming noise when you’re driving, you’ll hear creaks, cracks,” she tells the women at her clinics.
But she wasn’t always so attuned to a tune-up.
Banks describes herself as a former auto airhead.
What is that?
“An auto airhead is what I call a woman who doesn’t know how to take care of her car,” Banks explains. “She panics when something goes wrong and she fears the auto mechanic.”
So Banks went on a mission to turn auto airheads in to gear heads.
She got the idea for Girls Auto Clinic when she was working as an engineer.
Banks decided she needed to know how to fix her own car and she wanted other women to know how to do the same thing.
She quit her engineering job with Dupont and went back to school and became an auto mechanic.
She began working in repair shops around Philly.
“I want to change the relationship women have with their car and how they view it,” said Banks.
The women at one of her recent clinics listen intently, some taking notes.
All are amazed by what they learned this day from Banks.
“Everything she said was like a wild moment for me,” said one woman. “Who would think the filter could be changed so easily.”
‘I just put a clamp back on that fell off and I learned how to do it because it made sense,” said another woman.
When it’s not a fix you can make yourself Patrice wants women to be proactive with their mechanic.
“If they say to you, ‘you need this’ you say ‘show me I want to feel it, I want to see it’,” advised Banks.
“I want them to walk away feeling empowered,” she said.
Banks is a mechanic catering to women so when it comes to our cars there’s no more motor intimidation.