How To Make Hyundai And Kia Cars Harder To Steal Before 2021

How To Make Hyundai And Kia Cars Harder To Steal Before 2021

Crores of thieves responded to the “Kia Boys Challenge” on TikTok, showing how to hot-wire Hyundai and Kia vehicles with a screwdriver and USB cable.

These thieves-in-training (apparently fancying themselves the updated Memphis ravens from the movie gone in 60 Seconds) found that it worked, and car theft rates increased dramatically.

Specifically, 2010–2021 models from South Korean manufacturers were targeted because they did not include an engine immobilizer system, which is an electronic anti-theft protection device. By mid-February, automakers announced they would be releasing software to fix that problem over the next several months, and owners are finally getting some peace of mind. The fix replicated a kill switch via software and would not allow the engine to start until the car was unlocked with the key fob.

The update is available now for 2017-2020 Elantra models, 2015-2019 Sonatas and 2020-2021 Venues. Affected Accent, Tucson, Veloster, Kona, Palisade and Santa Fe vehicles will begin servicing in June. Even the 2011-2014 Genesis Coupe was not spared from this breach and will be included in a later rollout. Hyundai said “the upgrade can be done at any Hyundai dealership and takes less than an hour for installation at a site specially set up for this issue”.

2019 Hyundai Elantra Static Exterior

In Los Angeles alone, officials told CNBC, the short-form TikTok viral video led to an 85% increase in Hyundai and Kia thefts compared to 2021. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said the youngest offender was 11 years old, which is long before a young thief can have a legal driver’s license. Local Chicago station NBC 5 reported that Hyundai and Kia thefts accounted for 59% of all Chicago motor vehicle thefts reported in November 2022.

Fortunately for Hyundai and Kia owners, engine immobilizers are standard on all Hyundai vehicles produced through November 2021, and they’ve been included on cars with push-button starters and key fobs for a lot longer. Those that were stolen required a physical key, which was replaced by a screwdriver during the theft.

Unfortunately, not every affected Hyundai or Kia model will be able to accommodate the software upgrade. Automakers are currently finalizing a program that reimburses owners for the cost of a steering wheel lock instead. Throughout the country, a limited number of wheel locks were made available to drivers. (And yes, drivers can buy their own wheel locks to prevent theft.)

Hyundai told the National Transportation Highway Board that it will provide a sticker to warn thieves that the vehicle was updated. Any trespassers who risk trespassing will be greeted with an extended one-minute alarm that will alert anyone in the area to a problem.

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