What to Do About Kia and Hyundai Thefts
Although the internet and social media can bring people and information together, recent Kia and Hyundai thefts aren’t among them.
TikTok challenges have become trendy, but the most recent trend is simply illegal. This social media challenge shows the audience how to steal a Hyundai or Kia vehicle that is missing one important item. Certainly, owners of these cars wish this challenge had never been created, but it has. Thankfully, the car brands have come up with a response to these thefts to help avoid future problems.
How easy is it for thieves to steal these vehicles?
The social media challenge shows thieves that certain model years of vehicles from these two brands can be stolen very easily. Unfortunately, the models in question are missing engine immobilizers. These items make it difficult to steal a vehicle without the key or fob. Because these vehicles were built without this device, all a thief needs to do is break a window, crack the steering wheel, and use a USB connector to hot-wire the cars. This has made it way too easy to steal these cars.
What models are affected?
Recently, Hyundai and Kia owners have joined a class action lawsuit against the manufacturers for overlooking this important item. The Kia and Hyundai thefts are at an all-time high, and this new lawsuit should help bring some peace to owners who have become victims. The vehicles that don’t have the engine immobilizer devices are Kia models built between 2011 and 2021 and Hyundai’s made between 2015 and 2021.
The hardware is missing, but the software is improved
The two Korean brands have developed a feature that will ensure this TikTok challenge is thwarted. This development is a software upgrade that can be installed in the millions of vehicles that are potential targets of would-be thieves. This software is a theft deterrent system that updates the theft alert to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn on the vehicle.
In addition to the software update, owners will have window stickers to alert these potential thieves that the vehicle is now equipped with anti-theft protection. This sticker should, hopefully, alert these potential thieves that this Hyundai or Kia isn’t a model they can steal by using the TikTok challenge instruction.
How soon will these improvements be made?
We might see the end of the TikTok challenge involving Kia and Hyundai thefts soon. Hyundai will send out stickers and roll out the software in a phased approach with several additional phases over the next several months. Kia will also offer the same software in a phased approach with added phases over the next several months.
In addition to the software and stickers, both automotive brands are working with law enforcement agencies to provide more than 26,000 steering wheel locks in areas most impacted by these thefts. The NHTSA encourages vehicle owners to contact their local law enforcement agencies to see if a wheel lock is available. This could be an important deterrent until the software and stickers are available.
These thieves aren’t your typical car thieves
Most of us think of car thieves as those that see a car that can be chopped up for parts and sold off one piece at a time. This TikTok challenge doesn’t lead to that at all. Instead, most vehicles stolen using the instructions from social media are no longer drivable once parked or crashed. These nontypical car thieves have caused a great deal of havoc with the Kia and Hyundai thefts. So far, these thefts have resulted in at least 14 crashes and eight fatalities, making for a lot of damage and trouble along the way.
How can owners learn about the stickers and software updates?
Owners of impacted vehicles can learn more about the updates and when their vehicle should be taken to the dealership to have this software installed by calling Hyundai or Kia. This call is being urged by the NHTSA, and it gives these owners a better feeling of how they can avoid their vehicles being stolen.
For the time being, owners wishing to avoid the Kia and Hyundai thefts need to garage their cars, buy wheel locks and use them, and keep their vehicles parked in well-lit areas. This TikTok challenge shouldn’t have ever been made, but at least something is being done about it.
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