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20 Feb, 2023
1 min time to read

The "Kia Challenge" trend on the social media platform showed how thieves can steal Kias and Hyundais in just 20 to 30 seconds.

Hyundai has announced that it will be issuing a software patch to prevent car thieves from stealing its vehicles using viral TikTok instructions. The process involves opening the steering column, accessing the diagnostic port, and plugging in a USB cord. As the trend spread nationwide, the low-cost Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, and Kia Sportage climbed to the top 20 most stolen cars list.

Hyundai's response to the issue is to introduce a free anti-theft software upgrade that will prevent the vehicles from starting during the popularized method of theft. However, the fix can't be installed on all vulnerable vehicles. The rollout will begin with 2017-2020 Elantra, 2015-2019 Sonata and 2020-2021 Venue vehicles, with a total of four million vehicles being eligible for the software upgrade. Some 2011-2022 model year vehicles without engine immobilizers cannot accommodate the software upgrade, so Hyundai plans to reimburse those owners for the purchase of a steering wheel lock.

Hyundai stated that the fix is in response to increasing thefts targeting its vehicles without push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices in the United States. In a statement, the company said, “Hyundai is introducing a free anti-theft software upgrade to prevent the vehicles from starting during a method of theft popularized on TikTok and other social media channels." After installing the patch, a sticker will be placed on the windshield to inform the owner that the car is no longer easy to steal.

The software patch was made available after a class action lawsuit was filed by Kia-Hyundai owners alleging that the company was negligent by not installing devices that prevent these types of thefts on all models. The company didn't specify how many owners will need to buy and use a steering wheel lock to prevent their cars from getting stolen.