By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Mar 25, 2024 at 4:31 PM

Pardon the pun, but there are a lot of moving parts in Chaya Milchtein’s career. The automotive educator, journalist and influencer – who is also known as “Mechanic Shop Femme” – travels the world and the interwebs to share her passion for and knowledge about cars. 

With almost 800,000 social media followers under her sparkly belt – she’s adored on TikTok – Milchtein is about to embark on a tour in support of her new book, “Mechanic Shop Femme’s Guide To Car Ownership: Uncomplicating Cars For All Of Us.”

The 304-page guide is written in casual, fun, easy-to-follow language for regular folks who wanna learn more about the basics of car ownership. The book covers everything from how to pick the right vehicle to communicating effectively with mechanics to how to prevent catalytic converter theft.

“Basically, you’ll learn everything you wish your dad had taught you,” she says.

“Mechanic Shop Femme’s Guide To Car Ownership” drops on Tuesday, April 9 and is currently available for pre-order

Milchtein will kick off a 16-city book tour on Tuesday, April 9, making stops at women-, queer-, and PoC-owned mechanic shops around the country where she will read, sign books and connect. The tour begins in Boston and ends in Cudahy, where she will appear at Packard Automotive on Monday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $5 and available here.

Ticket sales will fund the Jill Trotta Scholarship that's launching in the fall of 2024. The scholarship will provide financial assistance for tools, tuition fees and other necessary requirements for women and queer individuals who are entering the auto industry.

Milchtein’s professional journey began in 2013 at the now-defunct Sears Automotive Center in Glendale. She took the job at 18 years old because she aged out of Milwaukee’s foster care system and needed to support herself.

“I didn’t even have a drivers license at the time,” she says. “I really just needed a job. Any job.”

But with her interest in people, natural curiosity and high intelligence she quickly learned the ropes. She decided she wanted to try living in New York City, so she applied for a similar job in the Brooklyn-based Sears Auto Center and got it.

“That’s where I really got into things. I was thrown into a fire. It was always super busy and so many different vehicles,” she says. “All of my coworkers were from the Caribbean and it turns out my name – Chaya – is pronounced the same as the title of a Bob Marley song – “Kaya” – so we got along right away. They loved to sing the song when they saw me. It was fantastic.”

Eventually, Milchtein’s wife wanted to buy a house and have a more affordable lifestyle, so they moved back to Milwaukee. Here Milchtein launched her writing and education business and has taught car classes at libraries, universities, non-profits and businesses, including John Jay Criminal College, BMO Bank and Vanderbilt University.

She has worked with national and international automotive brands, including CarMax, TireRack, iFixit and Jerry. Milchtein has been featured in AARP, NPR's Lifekit, Oprah Magazine, Car Talk and The Chicago Tribune. She's written for AAA's Via Magazine, Parents Magazine, Shondaland and PBS's "Next Avenue.”

Milchtein appreciates and knows a lot about cars, but her true calling is helping others. Especially women and LGBTQ+ people who traditionally felt daunted by the auto industry.

“I don’t consider myself an automotive enthusiast, rather someone who likes to teach and write about cars for regular people. Folks trying to get to and from work; students trying to own a car on a tight budget,” she says.

Most importantly, Milchtein is committed to being 100 percent herself both in her personal life as well as professionally. And her love for fashion is obvious in all aspects of her life.

“I bring my full self to my work," she says. "And if I'm not for you, that's OK."

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Follow Chaya Milchtein/Machine Shop Femme on Instagram and Facebook and TikTok.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.