HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Hyundai and Kia have announced that some of their vehicles will be receiving a software upgrade to prevent car thefts. Now, drivers all across the country are breathing a sigh of relief.
Over the past six months, insurance companies have deemed Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2010 and 2021 “too easy to steal” as a result of a recent TikTok trend utilizing the vehicles’ USB cables to override the system.
Aaron Fleming, the owner of 804 Auto Repair, told 8News that drivers lucky enough to get their vehicles back often face costly repairs.
“Anywhere from, I would say $500 to $1500, somewhere [around] there, depending on what all is broken with the vehicle,” Fleming said.
Last year, the Henrico County Police Division urged Hyundai and Kia drivers to be extra cautious as thefts across the country increased between August and December as a result of this trend. According to a police spokesperson, there were 16 vehicles stolen in Henrico from Oct. 16, 2022, to Dec. 16, 2022. While this was a decrease from the 25 thefts that occurred during the TikTok trends peak popularity, all of them were still either Kia or Hyundai.
In September, a California attorney filed a class-action lawsuit against Kia America and Hyundai Motor America as a result of the thefts.
This week, however, both car companies announced that they would be preparing to put a stop to the break-ins by using an “ignition kill” feature. Both companies will also be offering steering wheel locks for affected customers.
CEO of Hyundai Motor Company, Randy Parker, released a statement — in part — saying:
“The technology will be launched as a service campaign for a total of almost 4 million vehicles beginning on February 14, with the upgrade rolling out first to more than 1 million model year 2017-2020 Elantra, 2015-2019 Sonata and 2020-2021 Venue vehicles.”
Kia sent out a notice to its customers — in part — saying:
“Kia is notifying eligible owners by mail when the software is available for their vehicles and instructing them to bring their vehicle to the nearest Kia dealership for the free upgrade, which takes under an hour to install.”
Fleming told 8News he is hopeful this software update could be the solution that many car owners have been waiting for, but he still urges all drivers to be careful.
“The biggest thing is [to] always lock your vehicle,” he said. “That’s going to add a little more time and hopefully within that time somebody will be able to see and report it.”