Drive In To the Girls Auto Clinic

Patrice was once like many women -- a self professed “auto airhead” who was clueless about car maintenance. “I was the kind of driver whose stomach would drop anytime a dashboard light came on or a loud rattle escaped from under the hood. Instead of dealing with it, I’d say a silent prayer willing the problem to magically fix itself,” says Patrice. The amazing part is that she spent her pre-Auto Clinic career as a materials engineering consultant for DuPont – one of the world’s largest chemical companies.

Patrice was raised by a single mom. Her family couldn’t afford a car. In fact, the first car in Patrice’s household was her own. It was a 1988 Chevy Cavalier that was brown inside and out. Her grandpa paid the $2,500 up front and she paid him back in monthly installments. Unfortunately, a boyfriend burned out the engine by accident, which left her with no car. Her next car was a hunter green Ford Explorer that she purchased after college. In no time at all she had accumulated 65,000 miles on her car and done zero maintenance to the vehicle other than oil changes. She put off needed repairs because she feared high repair bills and did not feel knowledgeable about how to take care of her car. After paying costly bills she finally traded her vehicle in and leased another car for three years. She gave this vehicle the same “Patrice treatment.” Patrice began to realize she needed a better relationship with her car. Unable to find a female mechanic near her, Patrice decided to become one.

After ten years at DuPont, Patrice decided she was ready for the next step in her career. “I wanted to do something empowering for women,” shares Patrice. Growing up her mom was on and off welfare with a string of abusive boyfriends drifting through the house. If it were not for her grandfather and a few high school teachers and counselors who took an interest in her, she would have turned out very differently. By her early thirties, she was a college-educated homeowner (both firsts in her immediate family) with a career. It was time to give back. At thirty-two she went back to school at Delaware Technical Community College to become a certified auto mechanic. She put in a full day at DuPont and then drove over to the school for night classes. One day she showed up for school without her change of clothes to work on cars. She threw on a sweatshirt over her blouse and got down under the car in her heels to pull out a starter. A student snapped a photo of her heels sticking out from under the car and her logo was born. She began looking for a shop that would let her work for free. She got turned down three times before someone was open to the idea. Finally, Edwin Regis, owner of a place called Guy’s Auto Clinic said yes. They worked together so well they decided to partner. Five years after auto tech school, the first Girls Auto Clinic shop opened its doors in Philadelphia. They are fully operational, handing brake and rotor replacements, power steering jobs, and alignments. In the first month, they had nearly a hundred customers.

In 2013, she held her first Girls Auto Clinic workshop. The workshop covers topics like: how to pop their hood, how to determine if a brake pad is good or worn, how to do basic maintenance on your car and emergency fixes such as jump starting a car. Patrice designed these workshops to help empower women to take ownership over the care of their car and replace fear and anxiety over car maintenance with confidence.

Patrice says you don’t have to go to school and become an auto technician like she did to become a shecanic (she-kan-ic). A shecanic is a woman of any age who has mastered the mechanics of “Yes I can” and uses those building blocks to get to “Yes, I did.” She takes care of her car and encourages other women to do the same. She is not afraid of the auto repair shop or the auto mechanic. A few tips to keep in mind when trying to find a great Primary Care Technician (PCT): (1) Never be embarrassed to ask questions; (2) Ask to be shown the issue on your car; (3) Ask for an estimate of the cost; and (4) Ask what you need to do now, and what can be saved for later.

#1: (At the table outside) Short interview portion will be first.
#2: DEMO portion:
•    At the table Wendy will talk about checking fluids in your car and cue the specific sound that your car makes when you need new brakes (SOT)
•    Patrice will turn to the hood of the car: Check the brake fluid and then turn back to the table and talk about the break fluid on the table for examples that your particular car may need.
•    While still at the table Wendy and Patrice will talk about checking the oil in your car – oil will be on the table.
•    Patrice will then turn to the hood and check the oil, turn back to the table and discuss various types of oil your particular car will need.
•    Staying at the table Patrice will discuss changing your air filters.  She will talk about a new filter and a not-so-new filter. Examples will be at the table.
•    Patrice will then turn to the hood and show where the filters are located. While at the car, Patrice will talk about tire care and maintenance. At this time Patrice will demonstrate how to check the tread of your tire with a penny.

The table will include items such as an oil filter, good/worn brakes, samples of car fluids such as brake and oil fluids, various types of oil for your car and a penny for checking the tire tread. The demo will be on a Ford Fit. Patrice will bring all props for the demo. Patrice requires under the hood access only. She will not be crawling under the car at all.

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Author, Girls Auto Clinic, (Touchstone/SimonandSchuster, 2017)

Founder of Girls Auto Clinic – a workshop that empowers women to take care of their cars

Former engineer for DuPont

Runs a full service auto repair shop staffed with female mechanics in Philadelphia

Featured on The Oprah Magazine, Huffington Post, Good Housekeeping, etc.

Appeared on CBS This Morning, Fox and Friends, etc.


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