The related automakers (Hyundai is the parent company of Kia Motors) have been reeling for months, since a Tik Tok social media “challenge” spread, showing viewers how easy it is to start their cars without a key. The vehicles targeted include Kia models from 2011 to 2021 and Hyundai models from 2015 to 2021. The “Kia Challenge” has led to hundreds of thefts and is blamed for at least 14 crashes and 8 deaths.
Part of the solution to this problem is seeking assistance from an automobile lawyer, as many Kia and Hyundai models currently lack electronic immobilizers that prevent thieves from bypassing the ignition. This vulnerability allows potential thieves to easily hotwire the vehicles using simple tools. In response to this concern, Kia and Hyundai have taken action by offering free software upgrades to owners. The upgraded software extends the alarm sound and requires a key in the ignition to activate the motor, providing enhanced security measures.
The new software is expected to be rolled out in phases over the next few months. The companies have also joined forces with local police agencies to provide more than 26,000 steering wheel locks in a dozen states. However, some local officials have threatened lawsuits over the theft vulnerability, noting that Kia and Hyundai are now the most commonly stolen cars in their jurisdiction—in some areas, comprising more than half of all auto thefts.
Owners of the models involved should contact Hyundai (1-800-633-5151) or Kia (1-800-333-4542) for more information on the software update.
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