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21 May, 2023
1 min time to read

The settlement aims to compensate approximately 9 million Hyundai and Kia owners in the United States.

Out of the total amount, around $145 million will be allocated to reimburse customers who experienced car theft or damage not covered by insurance. The settlement also covers insurance deductibles, increased premiums, and other associated expenses.

The agreement applies to various Hyundai and Kia models released between 2011 and 2022, including popular vehicles like Elantra, Santa Fe, Tucson, and the 2011-2014 Genesis Coupe. Under the terms of the settlement, Hyundai and Kia will pay up to $6,125 per owner for total vehicle loss and up to $3,375 for damage to the vehicle and personal belongings.

To address the security concerns raised by the TikTok challenge, the automakers have already introduced a dealership-installed update for certain models, such as the 2017-2020 Elantra, 2015-2019 Sonata, and 2020-2021 Venue. This update disables push-to-start and enhances the vehicle alarm system. By June, other vehicles will also receive software updates. As part of the settlement, Hyundai and Kia will offer up to $300 to assist owners in purchasing anti-theft devices. They have already provided free steering wheel locks to affected customers and offered AAA insurance options to those who faced coverage difficulties.

The "Kia Challenge" became widely known in mid-2022, when TikTok "Kia Boyz" videos demonstrated how USB cables could be used to start Hyundai and Kia cars that were not equipped with anti-theft immobilizers. Subsequently, thefts of these car models increased, leading to the involvement of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The viral clips were linked to at least 14 crashes and eight fatalities.

While the settlement resolves the class-action lawsuit with owners, it may not prevent lawsuits from cities like Cleveland, San Diego, and Seattle. This incident highlights the significant cost associated with security vulnerabilities in the age of social media, emphasizing how even minor weaknesses can quickly become widespread knowledge.