17 States Call for Recall of Hyundais, Kias Over Rampant Thefts
Written by Sebastien Bell, CarScoops
Published April 21, 2023
The attorneys general from 17 states, including California and New York, are calling on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a safety recall to remedy what they claim is a flaw that makes some Hyundai and Kia vehicles easier to steal.
“The bottom line is, Kia’s and Hyundai’s failure to install standard safety features on many of their vehicles have put vehicle owners and the public at risk,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who led the coalition of states in its call for a recall, reportedReuters.
Thefts of certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles have skyrocketed in recent years after it was discovered they lacked immobilizers and push button starters. Methods of exploiting these security weaknesses were then shared widely on social media sites, such as TikTok.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were nearly twice as many theft claims for Kias and Hyundais from the 2015-2019 model years as there were of all other vehicles from the same model years in 2022.
Bonta claimed Hyundai and Kia included the immobilizers and other features that would have made stealing the vehicles more difficult in other markets, even Canada, but decided not to include them in the U.S. However, Kia claims this is irrelevant, because the security systems are not federally required in the market.
“These specific models comply fully with all applicable federal standards, a recall is neither appropriate nor necessary under federal law,” said Kia in a statement.
That has not stopped cities around the country from suing the company for the increasing reports of auto thefts, and the associated rise in policing costs. According to NHTSA, the trend of stealing Hyundais and Kia has led to 14 crashes and eight deaths.
In response to criticisms, the automakers have offered software upgrades for their vehicles, as well as steering wheel locks, in an effort to dissuade thieves. NHTSA said it has met with the automakers and is receiving regular updated on the companies’ plans to remedy the issue, per the Associated Press.
“NHTSA will continue to monitor this issue, spread awareness of further updates to local authorities and lend its expertise in efforts to strengthen motor vehicle safety,” it wrote in a statement.
That failed to impress Bonta, though.
“Instead of taking responsibility with appropriate corrective action, these carmakers have chosen instead to pass this risk onto consumers and our communities,” he said.