Due to viral thefts, many Hyundais with keyed ignition switches made over the past decade or so have become difficult to insure. However, Hyundai thinks it has a solution, and it involves partnering with AAA insurance to offer coverage. As Randy Parker, CEO of Hyundai America, stated in a media release, “We are pleased to collaborate with AAA insurers in the best interest of our shared customers and provide support for those who were having difficulty securing and sustaining auto insurance as a result of the increased criminal activity targeting Hyundai vehicles.” Elantra owners of Milwaukee, rejoice.
It’s been a while since we last covered the Kia and Hyundai viral theft saga, so let’s recap. Thieves have discovered that certain Hyundai and Kia products can be stolen using USB cables; this discovery ended up on TikTok, more people learned how to steal these cars, and now several insurance companies reportedly are denying coverage, including Progressive. While it’s possible in certain states to legally drive without insurance , it’s not a very good idea. In case you haven’t noticed, cars are expensive, and hospital bills are even more expensive. If your car gets stolen, burns down, or you’re involved in a crash without insurance, you’re boned. Simple as that.
Now, the AAA insurance offer isn’t perfect, as it’s not good for owners residing in certain parts of the America. AAA doesn’t offer insurance in Alaska, Massachusetts, or Washington state, but Hyundai owners residing in all other states should be able to get coverage. Of course, that all depends on how affordable coverage is. I ran a quote for a 30-year-old single employed male with a clean driving history living in Milwaukee with a 2017 Hyundai Elantra, and the cheapest full-coverage plan AAA spat out was $143.30 per month, or $1,719.60 per year. Not amazing, but not terrible either. As a bonus, I’ve heard that AAA also offers an alright roadside assistance program that might come in handy if you own a car with a failure-prone Theta II engine. [Ed Note: That’s literally what AAA is known for. -DT].
In addition, Hyundai has a plan to prevent thefts of vulnerable vehicles. As an update on our prior reporting, an extensive array of models from model years 2011 to 2022 is now eligible for free manually-activated anti-theft software from Hyundai. Instead of a chip in each key, this new software acts as a kill switch of sorts when drivers lock their vehicles using their key fobs. Only unlocking these vehicles with their respective key fobs will turn off the immobilizers. Even if it feels a bit ’90s, it’s a huge step up from Hyundai’s previous fix of an alarm and kill switch owners had to pay for. The new software also requires a key fob to work, which means that some owners of really base models are simply out of luck. Hyundai claims that it’s preparing a variety of options for this small subset of owners, but no offer beyond reimbursement for steering wheel locks has been publicly announced yet.
While Hyundai stepping up to the plate may offer owners some relief, this whole fiasco could’ve been prevented if America had implemented broad legislation mandating immobilizers in all new cars. Canada mandated electronic immobilizers in all new cars and light trucks starting on Sept. 1, 2007, and it had a dramatic effect. Statistics Canada reported that more than 160,000 vehicles were stolen in Canada during 2006, a figure that had dropped to 72,804 in 2013. While immobilizers can’t ward off sophisticated organized crime rings, evidence suggests that they do discourage joyriding.
If you own an affected Hyundai, you can learn more about getting the anti-theft software update by visiting Hyundai’s website dedicated to the issue. As of Friday, all affected vehicles with key fobs are eligible for immobilizer software. In addition, AAA insurance has its online quote tool open for Hyundai owners now. Likewise, if you know someone driving an affected Hyundai, spread the news, because getting dropped by your insurer sucks, and car theft sucks even more. In the words of Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction, “Don’t fuck with another man’s vehicle.”
(Photo credits: Hyundai)
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Kias And Hyundais All Over The Country Are Getting Stolen By People With USB Cables
Progressive Reportedly Won’t Insure Some Kias And Hyundais Because They’re Too Easy To Steal
Hyundai Has A Fix For Its Easily-Stolen Cars, But You Have To Pay For It: Report
Hyundai, Kia Push Software Update For 8.3 Million Cars To Fix Rampant Auto Thefts
Feds Just Busted A $545-Million Catalytic Converter Theft Ring Involving An App For Catalytic Converter Sales
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AAA’s roadside assistance isn’t what it used to be. Absolute crap.
I haven’t used it,but I had always thought it was good. Can you elaborate?
Short version: AAA doesn’t run its roadside service. Various tow companies are on contract with local AAA chapters. AAA reimburses these companies at a fixed rate for services provided to AAA members. Therefore, the lower the fixed rate, the less incentivized the tow company is to provide prompt, quality service.
Hmmm- I own an old sports car and therefore have a use for AAA – my ‘brand expert’ has a shop just under 50 miles away and I use AAA to take the car there a couple times a year. I have been doing this for probably 10 years now. Never a complaint or problem. I’ve always gotten good drivers who flatbed my car. Once, some years ago I did have to have them rescue me at the roadside. Yeah, that took a while, but it sure beat trying to pick somebody I found on my phone.
Now as a caveat I do live in a major urban/suburban area. YMMV in a smaller city or town, but guess what? The same guy under contact to AAA in that small city is the same guy who would show up anyhow because he’s the only game in town. The difference is that if you called him via AAA and he tries to screw you, you can complain to AAA. If you called him directly, it’s “Shut and pay or stay here on the roadside- your call”.
I sold my car months ago (not Hyundai…) and I forgot to cancel my AAA… Thanks for reminding me, off to cancel it!
Why can’t do they good will trade in for something more secure? Or they know the target audience can’t afford a new car, so have to be stuck with crappy insurance as a captive subscriber?
This reminds me of the Mazda 3s that get people kick / dent the driver door to unlock the door, I guess the + side on that episode is the car rusted to oblivion relatively quickly.
The Theta ii settlement is just the beginning of Hyundai and Kia’s engine woes.
There’s a massive class-action settlement that also covers the Nu 2.0 and Gamma 1.6 gdi engines that will wrap up this fall.
I’d be curious to see coverage of this.
I am willing to give their EV a benefit of a doubt, but the engines.. it probably ends with Omega /s?
Is Theta II where they first moved away from the “World Engine” block shared with Chrysler and Mitsubishi, in favor of an in-house design? Or was it still a World Engine?
I’ve got a 2014 Elantra GT with the Nu engine. It definitely drinks a fair bit of oil, about a quart every 1.5-2.5k miles. I believe keeping the oil topped up mostly avoids the issues, although eventually the catalytic converter will die. A car that’s less than 10 years and 100k miles should never have such a drinking problem, so I totally understand the people who aren’t as observant and let it get super low. Especially since the factory oil change interval is 10k miles. I’ve gotta get in for the knock sensor update though!
Yup, I have an Elantra GT, same year and engine. I bought it certified used in January with 100k, dealer changed the oil. 3k miles later the oil light flashed and the knock started – dipstick was almost completely dry. Currently in line waiting for an engine.
Hope you can keep yours running! And in the unfortunate case that it fails, just know that there was a TSB that extends the powertrain warranty up to 15 years/150k and now includes subsequent owners.
Just supply Trunk Monkeys
I disagree. A Hyundai of the era in question is no ‘joy’ ride.
Too bad some dipshit kid is going to see a Hyundai, break in, destroy the dash, find out it won’t start with a USB, and leave you with your car torn apart, and probably unable to drive it until the ignition gets repaired.
I just got the “fix recall” letter for our 2017 Sorrento. I’m not sure I’m going to take it in. We live in rural Idaho, I work from home, and I park in a garage.
At the least I’ll wait until people can get it and explain how it works. I’d hate for the car not to start because my fob battery died
Could we please stop perpetuating the “Stolen with a USB” part of this story. There is NOTHING notable about a USB, the key tumbler happens to be rectangular and a USB key can turn it after the lock mechanism is disassembled so can a key, a flat head screwdriver, etc.
Don’t stoop to the sensationalism media.
While you are correct that a USB cable is unnecessary in this type of theft, it is the tool of choice for these thieves. You can see it in the TikTok videos of those who steal these cars (I’ll never understand people who film themselves committing felonies) as well as various tutorials. It’s not just a news media thing.
Actually, a USB cable is easier than a key. As I learned, when you disconnect a Kia/Hyundai ignition cylinder, you’re left with a flat blade. Turn the blade and you start the car. A key would have a harder time turning the blade than a USB cable, which slides right onto the blade.
I’m typically pro-Hyundai/Kia, but this saga has been a really bad look for them. Most of my experiences with Hyundai have been very positive, but if I was told “yo, we cheaped out in the worst way and your car can be stolen with a usb cable, uhhhh sorry here’s a club” I would be so, so pissed.
Kia Rio owner here. Kia has the same issue with its lame ignition locks being USB compatible. A month or so ago, Kia sent me a notice suggesting I register with its web site — the same site it uses for Theta owners — and in a week or so Kia sent me a debadged Club Yellow Twin Hook. I plan to use the club when I park in a sketchy area, but for daily use it is a PITA.
As another commenter here hinted at, I think of Hyundai/Kia’s handling of the Theta and ignition issues every time I see an enthusiastic story about a new Hyundai/Kia product. What are they half-assing this time?
taking the universal standard to the limits
Hyundai would never be on my list of cars to buy just because of how bad they have handled this whole incident. Talk about a joke.
My wife and I were talking about her Hyundai this morning after she found out that one of her coworkers got beat up trying to stop someone from stealing his Kia, and I found out one of my coworkers got her Hyundai stolen from outside the office building while she was at work. We both agree that we would never buy another Hyundai or Kia product based on how they cheaped out on the cars, then subsequently cheaped out on trying to fix the problem.
Insurable, but expensive!
This is pretty terrible. I pay quite a bit less than this to insure a Dodge Viper, at significantly better coverage than state minimum.
We get it, you have a Viper
If you don’t find value in my comments, I’d suggest not reading them.
Some people may find it interesting that certain subcompact economy cars cost more to insure than V10 sports cars. If not, I’m sorry for having wasted 3 seconds of your time today.
It also depends on your state, credit rating, and what valuation your insurer places on your vehicle. My 97 Mustang GT has a rather low KBB value which makes Progressive’s insurance on it very cheap. However, I’m also boned if I want to replace its actual value ($4k on KBB vs $12k in real life) which is why I’m looking at switching to Hagerty.
Thomas also said this was a “full-coverage” policy which usually is a higher standard than state minimums.
I looked into Hagerty too, one thing they don’t allow for is pausing the coverage during the winter for storage, which may or may not be a concern depending where you live.
I was told by Hagerty they take winter storage into account, which is how their monthly rate could be cheaper than other companies. For me, it still works out to be a better deal, I just have to save up enough for the lumpsum annual payment.
For others who are curious, AAA in Michigan would let me drop down to collision, theft, and act of god coverage for parking a car over winter (less than $20/month), Progressive does not.
That’s within spitting distance of what I pay to insure 3 cars, a motorcycle, and an RV trailer. No single vehicle costs more than about half of that per month.
Yep, was thinking that’s outrageous for insuring what is basically a base model. I pay about twice that for insurance… for 4 cars and 3 drivers (one of which is a teenager) all far above minimum required coverage.
I know we all know this, but insurance rates vary based on the zip code of where the vehicle is registered, the number of miles you tell the insurance company you plan to drive it, the ages of the vehicle’s drivers, and their driving records. I have read some auto insurance companies look at credit scores, too.
My point is, you and I could be identical in our demographics, but if I register my vehicle in San Francisco, I guarantee I’ll pay a higher rate than someone in rural Nebraska.
Can agree on Nebraska rates being generally lower 🙂 . The other caveat I recall is whether state’s have “no fault” clauses for insurance. At least that’s how my insurance agent explained to my 25yo self why my coverage improved (lower deductible) but my rate was almost cut in half when I moved from a rural area of MN to IA.
As a result of this thread, I went to check my premiums and realized I forgot to update my address and mileage when I moved 25 minutes closer to work 18 months ago. Just put it through and our 6 month premium for two cars was lowered $200. So I guess I overpaid by $600, but at least I caught it now!
We pay $150 a month through USAA for a 2003 MR2 Spyder and a 2014 Elantra GT. Comprehensive with $300 deductible. I’ve played around with coverage before and it seems to be a sweet spot- having a higher deductible doesn’t save much and having lower costs a lot more.
Insurance coverage for my 2004 911 is about half that of my 2019 Corolla. The Toyota is my most expensive car to insure. Even though it’s worth 3x less. Obviously I’m the same driver, same credit rating, same location for both.
Why? I don’t know. I think it has to do with the likelihood of being stolen.
My 2021 A6 Allroad is double that amount, despite me being 45 and with zero at-fault accidents and tickets.
I maxed out the liability coverages but that was less than 1/3 of the total premium.