Owners of certain models of Kia and Hyundai vehicles will be entitled to software upgrades designed to cut down on a rash of thefts nationwide officials say are exacerbated by some social media videos.
The fixes, intended to be distributed at no cost, have been prompted by owners’ claims that some models built before 2020 did not have an immobilizing device that would prevent the car from starting if keys were not near the vehicle.
Hyundai says the software upgrade will be available in the “very near future.” A statement from Kia allowed that the automaker is testing “enhanced security software designed to restrict operation of the vehicle’s ignition system.”
The Kia statement continued that the company “remains concerned that criminal actors are targeting certain Kia cars with a steel key and ‘turn-to-start’ ignition systems.” Both Hyundai and Kia said that they will continue to offer free steering wheel locks “to customers through interested local law enforcement agencies.”
According to Spectrum News in St. Louis, motor vehicle thefts shot up 78% in St. Louis in 2022 with 7,366 reportedly stolen. St. Louis officials pointed to a rise in Hyundai and Kia thefts for the uptick. Both automakers say engine immobilizers now come standard on vehicles, a practice Kia started with its 2022 models and Hyundai started in November 2021.
Autoblog recently reported that State Farm and Progressive are the two insurers that won’t insure some of the affected Hyundai and Kia products in some states. The city of Seattle is suing Hyundai and Kia over the thefts, the number of stolen Kias there rising 363% from 2021 to 2022, the number of stolen Hyundais rising 503%, the story said. It said that Hyundai said it would offer the software fix in March.