The free upgrade will roll out to over eight million cars.
Hyundai and Kia finally have a solution to the theft issue that has been plaguing both brands after a viral TikTok video showed how to easily steal the vehicle using only a USB and a screwdriver. The fix is a free anti-theft software upgrade that will be offered as part of a service campaign starting on February 14. This upgrade will be applied to 8.3 million vehicles total, including 3.8 million from Hyundai and 4.5 million from Kia.
This is a massive issue, but the solution is actually quite painless and takes less than one hour to install. It involves modifying the vehicle control module so that "locking the doors with the key fob will set the factory alarm and activate an 'ignition kill' feature so the vehicles cannot be started when subjected to the popularized theft mode." To deactivate the ignition kill, owners need to use their key fob to unlock the car.
"Hyundai is committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of our products through continuous improvement and is pleased to provide affected customers with an additional theft deterrent through this software upgrade," said Randy Parker, CEO, Hyundai Motor America. "We have prioritized the upgrade's availability for owners and lessees of our highest selling vehicles and those most targeted by thieves in order for dealers to service them first."
The program will launch with over one million 2017-2020 Hyundai Elantra, 2015-2019 Hyundai Sonata and 2020-2021 Hyundai Venue vehicles before being rolled out to other affected models by June 2023. Phase 2 includes models such as the Accent, Genesis Coupe, Santa Fe, Kona, Tucson, and others.
Be sure to check if your model year is impacted and when the fix will be available. Kia hasn't published specific details for its campaign but will likely roll out the fix on a similar timeline.
This fix couldn't come soon enough as many owners have already lost their insurance coverage due to this issue. The trend is so widespread, a Kia Optima police car was stolen and taken on a joy ride. To deter any more thefts, cars that have received the fix will get a window decal letting would-be criminals know that the TikTok hack will not work anymore.
Hyundai and Kia will provide free steering wheel locks for owners and lessees impacted by the issue and will reimburse anyone who has to purchase one for their 2011-2022 model year vehicle without an engine immobilizer that is not eligible for the upgrade.
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