Have you been notified?
Thanks to a TikTok challenge and tutorials we’ve found on just about every social media platform out there, plenty of kids are stealing Kias and Hyundais for kicks these days. With the Korean automakers skipping an engine immobilizer, something that’s been standard equipment in virtually every mass-produced vehicle since the turn of the century, anyone can steal one of nine million Kias and Hyundais in the US using a USB charging cord, at least until they’re updated.
See the street takeover that shocked Memphis here.
Originally, the companies announced the recall back in February as thefts raged in cities across North America. However, we keep seeing too many stories to count of Kias and Hyundais being stolen, including one Kia swiped by thieves right after it supposedly had the security update installed.
We’re left wondering just how quickly are Kia and Hyundai moving through those nine million recalled vehicles? The automakers were going to start by sending letters to owners in waves so dealership service departments aren’t overloaded. But we wonder how many cars have been updated and how many owners will ultimately go through with it.
If you have a Kia or Hyundai that’s a 2011 to 2022 and uses a steel ignition key, almost certainly your vehicle has been recalled. According to the Kia, these are the recalled models: 2011-2021 Forte, 2021-2022 K5, 2011-2020 Optima, 2011-2021 Rio, 2011-2021 Sedona, 2021-2022 Seltos, 2010, 2022 Soul, 2011-2022 Sorento, 2011-2022 Sportage.
The Hyundais included in the recall are 2011-2022 Accent, 2011-2022 Elantra, 2013-2017 Elantra GT, 2013-2014 Elantra Coupe, 2011-2012 Elantra Touring, 2011-2014 Genesis Coupe, 2018-2022 Kona, 2020-2021 Palisade, 2011-2012, 2019-2022 Santa Fe, 2013-2018, 2019 Santa Fe and Santa Fe XL, 2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport, 2011-2019 Sonata, 2011-2022 Tucson, 2012-2017 and 2019-2021 Veloster, 2020-2021 Venue, 2011-2012 Veracruz.
Kia does have a website where owners can enter their VIN and check the status of their ride, as does Hyundai. While visiting the site, you can request a free wheel lock to keep the neighborhood children from boosting your Sorento for TikTok street cred.
There are plenty of videos out there of kids as young as 9- or 10-years-old stealing Kias and Hyundais, it’s such a simple task. Often, the kids do it just for kicks, joyriding in someone’s commuter, thrashing it to pieces before either crashing it or just dumping the thing like garbage on the side of the road. But some kids are being recruited by theft rings which know minors won’t face serious legal consequences if caught.
You should also know Kia and Hyundai settled a class action lawsuit back on May 18, 2023 for about $200 million in compensation. If you have one of the four million recalled vehicles, you might qualify for a cash settlement and other benefits, including any theft-related losses if your car was stolen.
Ultimately, this security flaw will tarnish the image of both Kia and its sister brand, Hyundai. Already viewed as second-rate automakers, by cutting corners on basic vehicle security, the Koreans will have to work hard to win back some owners’ loyalty, while others might never return.
Images via Hyundai, Kia