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5 Need-To-Know Car Tips from A Woman Mechanic

by BUST Magazine


Patrice Banks (right) teaches a workshop

While searching for a woman to work on her car in 2011, Patrice Banks discovered that less than two percent of mechanics are female. She decided to do something about that, and began attending automotive school at nights and on weekends. Five years later, she quit her job as an analyst at DuPont to open Girls Auto Clinic, a female-driven auto repair shop in Philadelphia. And this fall, she released a how-to book, Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide. Here, Banks shares her best tips for taking care of your ride.

1. Check your maintenance schedule.

One simple way to maintain your car’s overall health is to read your owner’s manual, Banks advises. Search for the maintenance schedule, which will give you the deets on how often you should change your oil, flush your fluid, and replace your air filters. Follow your manufacturer’s recommended schedule to keep things in tip-top shape.

2. Find a mechanic you trust.

“A great way to find a mechanic is to ask for referrals from female friends. The best online resources can be found on our #sheCANic Facebook community,, or,” Banks says, adding that your “primary care technician” should be able to explain what they’re doing to your car. “A great PCT should be friendly and patient, a good communicator, and should understand the balance between urgent and non-urgent repairs.”

3. Weatherproof your car.

If you live in an area with inclement weather, Banks recommends that you make sure your battery is less than four years old. Check your tire tread, which should be at least 4mm thick. Replace worn wiper blades and refill washer fluid with a winter-grade formula, which has a lower freezing point than summer-grade fluid. If it’s snowing often, wash your car every two weeks to keep road salt from rusting it.

4. Get regular oil changes.

“Oil is the lifeline of your car,” Banks explains. “Your engine is full of fast-moving parts rubbing up against each other. Without the oil’s lubrication, the friction in the engine’s parts produces so much heat, your engine will seize up, essentially killing it.” It’s worth it to shell out $40 for regular oil changes rather than $3,000 for an engine replacement.

5. Stock your box.

Banks recommends that all drivers keep these essentials in their glove box for emergencies: A small first-aid kit, owner’s manual, tire pressure gauge, registration and insurance cards, small flashlight, rags, cell phone car charger, pens, and a small notebook.

Patrice Banks (right) teaches a workshop

By Jennifer Chen
Photographed by Shay Harrington

This article originally appeared in the December/January 2017 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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