Kia, Hyundai Thefts Ballooning


The Kia and Hyundai theft situation has been out of control for some time, but after news outlets reported some insurers aren’t covering certain vehicles, the two automakers seem to have gone into damage control mode. 

While a supposed fix is going to be deployed, neither automaker is featuring it prominently in any recent press releases or other available communications, though Hyundai previously announced a $170 kit to fix the lack of electronic engine immobilizers on certain models.

A news station in New Orleans has been covering the Kia and Hyundai thefts, reporting a quarter of all car thefts in the city last year were of those two brands. A quick search uncovers many other cities are grappling with similar problems: Kias and Hyundais accounted for one third of all car thefts in Washington, D.C., for the first three weeks of 2023. 

This trend is getting much worse as more kids see the social media posts, primarily on TikTok, about how to steal the cars.

The New Orleans station, WWL-TV, said Kia and Hyundai both confirmed the companies are working on “enhanced security software” for vehicles made in the last decade without engine immobilizers. A Hyundai spokesman told the station the software will be free and available as early as March. Kia informed the station the free software will be available about midway through 2023.

Details about the software and how it would deter theft haven’t been released by either automaker. Installing the software in every affected Kia and Hyundai will be a huge undertaking, requiring going to a dealer’s service department. 

In other words, the Kia and Hyundai theft problem likely isn’t going away anytime soon, even with this promised fix.

Some owners are getting engine immobilizers and steering locks confused. They think if they remove the key from their Kia or Hyundai, turn the wheel and it locks, that means their car can't be stolen. In most vehicles, there is a blinking light in the dash, usually shaped like a key, which flashes after you remove the key from the ignition, signaling that the electronic immobilizer is working. This is not the same thing as a factory steering wheel lock mechanism.

Neither automaker has issued a comprehensive list of exactly which models/trims lack an engine immobilizer. Instead, they’ve made statements about contacting owners directly, similar to how recall letters are sent out.

We thank Motorious for reprint permission.

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