Kia and Hyundai vehicles have become the target of a rising wave of thefts over the past few months, a trend that started after the ease of these robberies was publicized on the popular TikTok app. The automaker has finally come up with a solution it believes should curtail the disappearances, after 14 class action lawsuits have been filed in 15 states related to the issue, according to Automotive News. Unfortunately for Kia owners, the fix is only slated for Hyundai models, and it comes with some customer expense.
The viral trend of stealing these South Korean cars began in Milwaukee back in December 2021 but has spread across the nation with the help of TikTok creators. Essentially every Kia or Hyundai model that is started with a physical key has been targeted, with thieves needing nothing more than a basic USB cord to accomplish the lick. This is because both Hyundai and Kia did not start equipping immobilizers as standard equipment on key-started models until November of 2021, a month before the trend launched into the spotlight. More specifically, all 2011 to 2021 Kia vehicles and 2015 to 2021 Hyundai vehicles with a physical key are impacted. Bad actors simply need to force the ignition cylinder into place to get things moving, a fault you might expect from a modern classic more than a recently-produced vehicle. Models equipped with a push-button start do not suffer from the same flaw.
Hyundai has a fix ready for customers by way of a new security kit, however. The $170 package is available for purchase as of October 1 and features both an electronic kill switch and an alarm system centered around a glass break sensor, according to Car and Driver. The package was developed with some help from Compustar and will be available at all of the automaker’s 820 dealer locations in the United States. Customers are expected to pay for installation on top of the list price for the kit, which Car and Driver suggests could run owners as much as $500. A security update to Hyundai's software system is also slated to help prevent this issue from taking hold in the future, though that isn’t expected to arrive until the first half of 2023. Customers interested in the fix should contact Hyundai's Consumer Assistance line at 800–633–5151.
Kia hasn’t entirely forgotten about its customers in this case, and is instead ready to offer free steering wheel locks to owners of affected models. While a bit more rudimentary than Hyundai’s approach, the lack of any expected financial contributions is likely welcomed in this case. Hyundai is reportedly giving a few of these mechanical solutions out as well, should you need some additional assurances from the automaker.
While it is already too late for a number of owners, we'll have to see if this fix actually helps bring the trend of stolen South Korean cars to a close.
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