Persistent Thefts Continue to Plague Upgraded Hyundai, Kia Cars

The automakers released software upgrades to try to stem the theft of cars not equipped with engine immobilizers.


Owners of Kia and Hyundai vehicles equipped with anti-theft software upgrades continue to fall victim to car thefts, challenging the effectiveness of the manufacturers' responses to a widely exploited security vulnerability, MPR News reported.

The issue, which gained traction following a surge in thefts driven by a social media-exposed hacking method, has sparked a strong call for action from legal and government entities, despite the automakers' attempts to mitigate the problem.

Following a significant increase in car thefts involving Kia and Hyundai models lacking a standard engine immobilizer, the companies initiated a program offering free software upgrades to bolster anti-theft measures. However, reports from vehicle owners like Hannah Baker, who discovered her 2018 Hyundai Elantra missing from a parking lot despite the upgrade, show there are still ongoing concerns about the adequacy of these interventions.

The persistent thefts have prompted the Minneapolis City Council to demand a national recall for certain vulnerable Kia and Hyundai models, a move supported by the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, which is investigating the manufacturers. Law enforcement said a substantial portion of recent car thefts involve these brands, despite the availability of the software upgrade.

The situation is further complicated by the manufacturers' stance, as representatives from Kia and Hyundai claim unawareness of confirmed thefts of locked vehicles post-upgrade.

The issue extends beyond theft, with stolen vehicles often linked to broader criminal activities, including violent crimes and accidents, particularly involving young drivers.

Last year, Kia and Hyundai agreed to a $200 million settlement in a class action lawsuit that included $300 to pay for after-market security modifications for owners of cars that could not receive the software update. Those owners have until May 3 to opt in or out to receive a benefit from the settlement.

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