Hyundai, Kia Offer Anti-Theft Deterrents In Response to TikTok Videos

Hyundai and Kia are introducing free anti-theft measures to more than 8 million customers to prevent vehicles from starting if thieves try a method  popularized on TikTok and other social media channels.

In response to increasing thefts targeting vehicles without push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices in the United States, Hyundai will conduct a service campaign for a total of almost 4 million vehicles beginning today.

Some law enforcement agencies have been handing out steering wheel immobilizers to use in the meantime.

Hyundai’s efforts begin with more than 1 million model year 2017-2020 Elantra, 2015-2019 Sonata and 2020-2021 Venue vehicles. 

The software upgrade is scheduled to be available for the remaining eligible affected vehicles by June 2023. Those vehicles include 2018-2022 Accents, 2011-2016 Elantra, 2021-2022 and the Elantra, 2018-2020.



Vehicles from Kia America are also being targeted as a result of the social media theft how-to videos. 

Kia said in a statement that it has completed development of enhanced security software to restrict the unauthorized operation of vehicle ignition systems on certain models not equipped with an immobilizer. 

The automaker has already started notifying its affected owners, reportedly about 4.3 million, about this free software upgrade and anticipates making it available to most owners of affected vehicles over the next few months. 

“Kia also remains concerned about incidents of car theft targeting certain Kia models, encouraged in some cases by social media content promoting criminal conduct, and is committed to supporting law enforcement and owners in addressing these crimes,” according to the statement. “The company also continues to make steering wheel locks available at no cost through interested local law enforcement agencies, subject to available supply.”

Hyundai says its free upgrade will be performed by dealers and will take less than one hour for installation. Following completion of the upgrade, each vehicle will be affixed with window decals to alert would-be thieves that the vehicle is equipped with enhanced anti-theft technology.

All Hyundai vehicles produced since November 2021 are equipped with an engine immobilizer as standard equipment. Hyundai is also providing free steering wheel locks to law enforcement agencies for distribution to local residents who own or lease affected models.

Some 2011-2022 model year vehicles without engine immobilizers cannot accommodate the software upgrade. For these customers, Hyundai is finalizing a program to reimburse them for their purchase of steering wheel locks.

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