It’s TikTok’s world. We just live in it. Among other things lately, you can blame the combination teen dance video repository and Chinese Communist Party psyop for widely spreading the knowledge that a ton of late-model Hyundais and Kias can be stolen with fairly minimal effort. It’s been an utter disaster on several fronts, but our long, national nightmare may soon be over. Today, Hyundai announced the release of a software update that should make millions of cars less prone to rampant theft.
In case you don’t own one of these cars—or you do, and yours just hasn’t been stolen yet—it became common knowledge over the last year that millions of Hyundai and Kia models lack immobilizer devices.
Thanks to viral social media videos, it’s become widely known that the cars can be stolen with something as simple as a USB cable. This is, of course, on cars without the now-common push-button start feature, but Reuters said some 8.3 million U.S. vehicles are at risk.
The thefts became so widespread that they’ve led to a raft of problems, including the cars being deemed uninsurable in several states and, according to the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 14 crashes and eight deaths (!!!). Yeah, it’s pretty fucking dark. Theft rates for these cars was basically double the national average last year.
But now there’s light at the end of the tunnel, finally. Hyundai said that starting today, a software fix will roll out to more than 1 million 2017-2020 Elantras, 2015-2019 Sonatas and 2020-2021 Venues. The second wave of fixes on several additional models will become available in June, so I guess keep your Genesis Coupe locked in a secure vault until then.
The fix should take about an hour at the dealer; no over-the-air updates here, sorry. Also, the automaker is adding a handy window sticker to let would-be thieves know to look elsewhere from now on.
Here’s how it works:
The software upgrade modifies certain vehicle control modules on Hyundai vehicles equipped with standard “turn-key-to-start” ignition systems. As a result, locking the doors with the key fob will set the factory alarm and activate an “ignition kill” feature so the vehicles cannot be started when subjected to the popularized theft mode. Customers must use the key fob to unlock their vehicles to deactivate the “ignition kill” feature.
Which is probably how it should’ve worked from the start. I feel like every car I’ve ever owned with an alarm or keyless entry has had a kill switch tied to the fob, not that I go around trying to steal my own cars or anything. I don’t really have that kind of free time.
Hyundai had previously released a kit to fix this problem, but owners had to pay for it and it wasn’t exactly cheap. This software fix, via a voluntary recall, will thankfully be free.
Kia’s software rollout schedule is TBD, but since many of these cars are remarkably similar, a commensurate announcement is likely coming soon. Here’s Hyundai’s rollout schedule:
Check your VIN here to find out if your car is affected, but if it’s a Hyundai or Kia from the 2010s without a push-button starter, it seems like it probably is. If so, get it fixed sooner than later.
Might as well get The Club, too. At least the little dears can see that before they break your windows and try to start the car.
Okay what am I missing? Why is anyone stealing Hyundaes and KIAS? Why arent Hyundae and KIA using this as a selling point? Are cars are so good Nor only are people buying are cars they are stealing them. More than any other manufacturers cars. What slimy Marketer missed this opportunity?
Stolen Hyundai = cheaper than the bus.
https://tenor.com/view/its-fun-to-do-bad-things-bad-things-fun-kid-gif-4322931“>It’s fun to do bad things
There’s no way the Kia Boys have been in only 14 crashes with 8 deaths. Both those numders should be much higher.
What took them so long? Their previous half-assed solutions (“buy an expensive alarm from us” or “ask your local PD for one of the Clubs we donated”) were pretty lame.
I’d guess that when the insurance companies decided they weren’t going to cover some Hyundai/Kias anymore, it finally motivated them to roll this out for free. “Good luck getting insured” isn’t a good selling point for a brand.
So, I guess you’re just screwed if your fob dies/shorts after you’ve locked it. That’s not that abnormal.
But, it’s better than nothing, I guess.
I think it is abnormal. Most cars do arm the security when you lock with the FOB. But you can still start the car with the actual key, but those keys have some sort of built in safety device like a chip or resistor or something. At least they have since the 90s.
This does half and just screws you if your FOB dies.
I was thinking the same about these owners being out of luck if their fob battery died. I guess owners should keep a spare fob battery in their cars. In GM cars, I never had any kill switch, but the horn would beep if you opened the car with the key if it had been locked with the fob. Starting the car with the key would stop the beeping. For my modern, push to start cars, there’s usually a place in the car to put the dead fob to start the car. On my Volt, there was a slot in a cubby on the top of the dashboard. My STS has a place under the armrest. For my RAM, you hold the fob up to the start button and press it with the fob. The Volt would also warn me on screen when my fob battery was low.
Yeah not an owner of one of these but learned never lock your car in Vermont at 20 below. You can still start your car but you cannot unlock the doors until zero. Now i just live where people are nice and never lock my car.
Too bad you can’t change a battery before it dies! Right?
Yeah, I don’t get all this “dead fob battery equals doom stuff”. Generally the battery in a fob is a CR 2032 “coin battery”. They sell for about $2 each; often less. They usually last a couple of years. Changing one is a five minute job, including figuring out how to open the fob.
You’d think that is true, and it really should be… but auto manufacturer idiocy can do staggering things.
The battery went dead in the key fob for my Dodge Magnum. No sweat, said I, I’ll just change the $2 CR2032 battery! No sweat, a five minute job… didn’t work. As it turns out once that Dodge key battery went dead it needed to be re-programmed, and only a Dodge dealership could do that – and they would only do it if you have both keys to the car to prove that you are the actual owner of the car, and they charge $200 to do it, and only the master tech can do it, and he’s on vacation, and…
I’ve been opening the door on that car with the key the old fashioned way for about a decade now.
I’m not claiming Hyundai does things that way (not an owner of one, don’t know), but I share the above story to caution you against assuming anything is as easy as it *should* be…
Hyundai you can just replace it yourself, but the key is kind of a pain to get open so if you have a paranoid ex who is convinced you are going to break it, they’ll do it at the dealer for $20.
Almost everything about the situation you described makes me irrationally angry…
My fob from my car i bought new in 2002 still works. But i dont lock my car and i dont use the fob to remote start. Change the battery in your fob when you change it in your smoke detector. Or when you set your clock ahead or behind. I really dont see get how people dont believe in god. You do absolutely nothing and expect government or car manufacturers to save you. Id trust Santa and the Easter Bunny or even the tooth fairy before any of your saviors. But then again i work hard, make smart decisions, and dont expect anyone else but me and my loved ones to look out for me.
The short answer is that government exists, and the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and God do not.
I own a 2020 Elantra… in Milwaukee.
But it’s a push-button start Sport edition immune to all of this. It’s been broken into once, and the would-be thief was so upset he couldn’t grab it, he searched the car for anything to vent his frustration. Ended up stomping my favorite (and worthless) pair of sunglasses from 15 years ago. I’d hoped leaving it unlocked would let these folks realize faster (without damage) that they can’t get their Tiktok on, but they still smashed the driver’s side rear windows. It coated my 4-year-olds car seat with broken glass and it took months to get all the pieces out.
So fuck you, Hyundai. And fuck the cities and states that are failing these kids so hard they’re out doing dumb shit like this. (I don’t blame the kid, I really don’t. But fuck you for breaking my sunglasses.)
We have a ’20 Kia Soul and a ’23 Hyundai Santa Cruz. Fortunately both are push start vehicles, so immune from this issue. Fortunately, our insurance company hasn’t grumbled about them, so they obviously know which models and years are affected.
Just the same, as a visual deterrent, we have “The Club” that we use when parking in areas we’re unsure of. It’s silly 1990s car theft deterrent tech, but if it makes our cars even slightly less attractive to would-be thievery, it’s worth it.
We have a ’22 Santa Cruz. Our insurance renewal went up by $200 yearly. We’re retired, good credit, no claims in over 10 years. I wonder if the increase is inflationary or if we got caught in the fallout?
You don’t blame the kids? Not at all? You’re saying the poor dears are entirely products of their environment deprived of all agency and governed solely by external forces, as a cog in a machine?
That’s pretty damn dark man. They are human beings who made choices of their own volition- treating people as actual people rather than ideological playthings involves the good and the bad.
If you dont blame the product of poor sperm at least blame the defective egg donor and the sperm reject living to close to the nuclear power plant. Yes a Bart Simpson reference. Dont blame the boy be like the boy. No the parents or the kid. The government isn’t responsible for raising your kid and my income isn’t unlimited to be hoovered for taxes to find out bad kids usually come from bad parents. Quit blaming society for the mistakes of 3 people and leave me enough money to retire when i am 80.
Hey! Don’t be dragging nuclear into this!
You don’t blame the criminal who vandalized your car for his own actions??
Anyone old enough to wreak such destruction is old enough to know what he’s doing is wrong. Maybe the parents share some blame for doing such a poor job raising him, but ultimately people are responsible for their own actions.
Is your name Erin Marquis by any chance? 😉
(for any of you lucky enough to be unfamiliar with the reference, Erin was a writer at the old site who published an entire article that boiled down to “don’t blame the criminals for criming”)
Erin is one of two reasons I ditched Jalopnik for good and switched to The Autopian.
“I don’t blame the kid, I really don’t” Ummm…. really?…(☉_☉)
When I was a Wee Lad, car theft was not child’s play!
That’s way better than my idea – Mandatory conversion to manual transmission.
I think you’re idea is better.
If the Chinese spyware can teach kids how to steal cars they can sure teach them how to steal manual cars.
Why doesn’t Chinese spyware teach people how to steal Chinese cars?
Because no one wants lousy Chinese cars, not even free ones.
That joke still needs some work, but seriously, with so many good cars out there, why buy, acquire or steal a pile of junk?
Not to crap on their solution, but I sure hope no one loses their key fob or suffers a dead fob battery after this fix. I also suspect it will be fairly trivial to hack with a sniffer, although it should at least reduce the joyriding.
The fix really should be retrofitting of a true RFID immobilizer, but clearly that’s too costly a fix for these low margin cars.
You missed the easy thefts by using an antennae and a keyfob left by the door? Cars get stolen. Has it gone up? Hey put that in the story.
Also quit pushing for people who have clean air, inexpensive housing, boundless free parking, no fear of being robbed, shot, or killed to move to your city and be a victim.
But hey the country sucks. Power outages, no medical care, it is like we are living in little house on the prairie. Save yourself and your demon spawn children stay in the city. For gods sake stay in the city.
Are you OK man? Go outside and touch some grass. I gotta walk a kid 50 yards to school and then walk another three minutes to the corner store for milk.
Ummm, actually, please do not feel encouraged to move anywhere near me. You seem a bit too irate about something?
However, I do indeed have demon spawn. You are very correct about that.
my kid loves her Kia soul. 8 years with no mechanical problems but a fuel cap. But the aftermarket security system was nearly $500 she paid for it from a local car alarm company that is very good.
I bet she could get reimbursed from the manufacturer now.