Kia And Hyundai Theft Is Ballooning

Feb 13, 2023 2 min read
Kia And Hyundai Theft Is Ballooning

Both automakers seem to be scrambling to salvage their image…

The Kia and Hyundai theft situation has been out of control for some time, but after we and many other news outlets covered that 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. It is worth noting that Hyundai previously announced a $170 kit to fix the lack of electronic engine immobilizers on certain models.

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A local news station in New Orleans has been covering the Kia and Hyundai thefts, saying a quarter of all car thefts in the city last year were of those two brands. A quick search will uncover many other cities are grappling with similar problems, like Kias and Hyundais accounting 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.

Back to that New Orleans station, WWLTV, it says 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. Sadly, we’ve learned to be skeptical about theft deterrent measures doled out by automakers after they didn’t design vehicles with robust enough systems from the get-go, so we’ll see how well this works. We also know installing the software in every affected Kia and Hyundai will be a huge undertaking since that would require 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 people 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 cant’ 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.

However you cut it at this point, the Kia and Hyundai theft trend is a huge fiasco. Hopefully both brands are able to get the situation under control, but that might take some time. In the meantime, their images have and will continue to suffer.

Sources: WWLTV, KMOV4, WUSA9

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