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I was sad to hear about my girlfriend’s great-aunt passing away. But it certainly took some of the sting away when her cousin texted: “Do you want Winnie’s old Corolla? No one else is interested.” The Toyota in question only had 20k miles. But because it was a couple of generations old, the estate settled on $4k as a reasonable price. It cost four cents a mile before it needed anything beyond an oil change! It’s unsurprising that some used car buying experts recommend keeping an eye on the obituaries section in hopes of finding a similar deal when someone else’s Great Aunt Winnie passes away. But with used car prices currently high, it’s unsurprising that buyers are getting creative.

Car prices are going up again

Bird's-eye-view of a dealership lot with a low inventory available to used car buyers.
Dealership inventory | David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A limited supply of new vehicles has pushed many buyers to the used market. The result is a low inventory and high prices of used cars and trucks.

For a moment in early 2023, it seemed as if the bubble was finally bursting and used call prices were falling. But in March 2023, Yahoo Finance wrote that “used car prices are going up again.” In fact, used car prices jumped 3.7% during the month of February, 2023. That’s a greater increase in the average used car price in any month of the past decade.

Worse, a senior analyst named Jeremy Robb told Yahoo that used car dealers are “tight on inventory.” But some used car buyers are finding creative ways to nab used cars before they even hit the dealer lot.

A less-than-ethical life hack could help you find a used car

A blue station wagon parked on the street with an $1100 sign and phone number for used car buyers, a brick house in the background.
Used car for sale | Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

So there I was, reading a blog post on “Questionable Life Hacks That Are Actually Kind of Genius” (for an article on blocking your license plates from automated cameras), when I stumbled on the following advice:

“Looking to buy a car? Search the obituary for the phone number and call. They could be looking to liquidate assets quickly and sell cheap.”

Alison Campbell for

I was a bit shocked by the audacity of the tip. On one hand, scouring the obituary section in search of used cars could be considered a bit predatory. It is certainly an attempt to capitalize on the misfortune of others.

But on the other hand, who knows how many of the used cars in a given used car lot belonged to the recently deceased? If you learned the late owner of a given car recently passed away, would you refuse to buy it? Probably not. Finding next-of-kin in the obituaries cuts out that used car lot, and may even result in the family getting more money from the car sale. So that’s a good thing, right?

I suspect that most used car buyers would find it distasteful to lowball a mourning family and attempt to buy a recently deceased person’s car on the cheap. But many car buyers might be more likely to reach out and ask about plans for the estate. Saying, “I am actually shopping for a used car, and am curious if you are trying to liquidate assets quickly” could be seen as a way to help.

The writer of this list of “Questionable Life Hacks” admitted that this car-shopping technique “depends on everyone’s different moral compasses.”

Other ‘Questionable Life Hacks’

A woman finds a parking ticket under the windshield wiper of her Jeep SUV.
Parking ticket | gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images

The same article had an extensive list of auto-related tips and tricks to get what you want in life. While most folks might not put these into practice, they are all at least amusing to think about.

One tip from a reader read:

“I once got a parking ticket and instead of paying it I dipped it in water, crompled it up, and had my gf bring it to the police station a week later saying she found it on the street. I went online to see if the citation was still there and it was gone.”

“Questionable Life Hacks'” on Techy Twist

This is a trick that might just work! The police have no way of knowing that the ticket didn’t actually fall off your car. They might question the girlfriend’s motives, but the worst thing they could do would be to lookup your registration and mail you a fresh ticket.

Another tip read the following:

“If you want free parking, find a garage that makes you take a ticket to keep track of how long you’ve been there. When you leave, instead of giving the machine the original ticket you took, go get a new one and give that one to the machine. You’ll only be charged for like 5 minutes of parking, which is usually free.”

“Questionable Life Hacks'” on Techy Twist

I suppose there is a low likelihood of getting caught at this scam. A parking attendant would have to review security footage of your entry into the garage. But if they did that, they would have hard evidence. In addition, stealing parking may feel like a victimless crime. But if enough folks do it, the city would have to increase the price of parking for everyone eles. That’s not fair.

The final questionable hack is downright hilarious:

“My dad would keep an orange vest and an orange flag in his car when we would go to sporting events. After the game, when the lot was full of angry drunk drivers, even getting someone to let you in was a real pain in the a**. My dad would have me or my brother jump out with the vest and flag and stop traffic, so he could get in the line. Then we would jump back in the car.”

“Questionable Life Hacks'” onTechy Twist

A parent at a sporting event tricking their child into directing traffic in their favor is a funny image, straight out of a comedy movie. But in real life, I’m not sure it’s a safe idea to ask a minor to con a row of “angry drunk drivers” leaving a sports game.

Next, learn how a typo can get you out of a parking ticket or see some tips for buying a used car in 2023 in the video below: