Hyundai and Kia upgrade security after TikTok challenge linked to theft

Hyundai motor
Image: Hyundai (Twitter)

Hyundai and Kia are providing software upgrades to stop TikTok challenge-related auto thefts. Officials believe it has caused at least 14 collisions and eight deaths.


Millions of automobiles are missing a vital anti-theft system. This is what social media users have exploited and caused an increase in car theft. The updates are free.


The new software increases the theft warning sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the ignition key to start the automobile.


The NHTSA said Tuesday that 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias are eligible for the software patch.


Hyundai will upgrade about 4 million vehicles, including one million 2017-2020 Elantra, 2015-2019 Sonata, and 2020-2021 Venue vehicles. The remaining vehicles will receive the software upgrade in June.


We prioritized the upgrade for owners of our best-selling and most-targeted vehicles so that dealers can service them first. According to Hyundai Motor America CEO Randy Parker.


Hyundais and Kias without immobilizers had 2.18 vehicle theft claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years in September. This is according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute. The remaining industry rate was 1.21. One vehicle year equals one car insured.


The institute compared 2015–2019 cars. It evaluated 2021 automobile theft reports.


All Hyundai cars will have immobilizers starting November 1, 2021.


The insurance industry has noticed rising theft rates. Due to theft, State Farm stopped insuring certain Hyundai and Kia model years and trim levels in January.


“This is a big problem that affects our consumers and the entire auto insurance business,” State Farm says.


The insurer did not specify which Hyundai and Kia models are affected or where it has halted new car insurance sales.


Crash-related TikTok challenge

The NHTSA reported 14 crashes and eight fatalities after a TikTok social media challenge uncovered the vehicles’ lack of an immobilizer. The challenge uses a USB cord and screw to hot-wire Kia and Hyundai autos.


A Buffalo police commissioner suggested in October that the TikTok challenge may have caused a tragic car accident involving four teens. Buffalo police reported six teens in a speeding Kia that crashed.


Hyundai and Kia will begin software changes by the end of this month, with subsequent phases over several months. Hyundai will also provide window labels alerting criminals that the vehicle has anti-theft systems.


Kia 800-333-4542 and Hyundai 800-633-5151 can provide software update information.

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