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.