Viral TikTok videos have shown vulnerabilities in millions of Hyundai and Kia vehicles that have led to many thefts. Several models were sold missing critical anti-theft software. That made it easy for thieves to steal those cars without needing a key. A software patch is finally rolling out to help stop auto thefts.
Read on for more details on this scary vulnerability and how to get your vehicle updated if you own one of the at-risk models.
TikTok videos lead to auto thefts
Viral TikTok videos have caused many a problem over the years. Who could forget the crazy NyQuil chicken challenge? Tap or click here if you need a refresher. But it’s not often that you see a trend responsible for the theft of hundreds of vehicles.
This is actually what is happening. A trend called the “Kia Challenge” involves TikTok users replicating the methods of thieves known as “the Kia Boyz” to circumvent Hyundai and Kia security systems. Breaking into the cars is possible through simple techniques, such as using a USB cable.
The cars in question? Kias produced after 2011, and Hyundai cars built after 2015. Vehicles manufactured in 2022 and later should be fine. The problem is that impacted vehicles were manufactured without emergency engine immobilizers that would prevent criminals from activating the engine without a key.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the viral trend not only caused car thefts but has spread nationwide and resulted in at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities.
Hyundai and Kia releasing an anti-theft software patch
The good news is that Hyundai and Kia have developed theft deterrent software for millions of their vehicles that lack an immobilizer and will provide it free of charge to vehicle owners.
According to the NHTSA, “The software updates the theft alarm software logic to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on.”
Hyundai will also provide customers with a window sticker alerting potential thieves that the vehicle is equipped with anti-theft protection. Hyundai will send the stickers and roll out software updates in a phased approach beginning later this month, with subsequent phases over the next several months.
Hyundai has launched a dedicated website where you can find out if your vehicle is impacted and your nearest dealer.
Kia is also rolling out its free software updates in a phased approach. The company will begin to update vehicles later this month, with ensuing phases throughout the next several months.
NHTSA urges owners of these vehicles to contact Hyundai (800-633-5151) or Kia (800-333-4542) for information on the free update.
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