Home » Kia Actually Sent My Dad A ‘Club’-Style Steering Lock Because They Built A Car That Teens Could Steal With A USB Cable

Kia Actually Sent My Dad A ‘Club’-Style Steering Lock Because They Built A Car That Teens Could Steal With A USB Cable

Soul Saver
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My dad is a complex person like all dads are, but he’s not a complicated one. So when I saw that his 2012 Kia Soul suddenly had a Bertone orange steering wheel lock hugging the well-worn wheel, I was certain he didn’t buy it with his own money and quickly asked how he’d procured it. “Kia sent it to me,” he explained.

The topic of my dad’s thrift has surfaced here before, so I should clarify that both my parents are extremely generous. When they showed up yesterday to visit, they brought a Lego kit for my daughter and enough chocolate to keep me content until Halloween.

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They also brought their Kia Soul+, a car with more than 175,000 miles on the original spark plugs. The little subcompact has held up quite well and needed very little aside from routine maintenance items, though the steering wheel is chipping and the original key broke off the car’s apparently useless fob. With apologies to Huibert, the only adornments are the cross-drilled rotors and red front brake calipers my dad recently installed (my dad used to work security for NHRA events in Houston and knew a guy with a brake company, so he got a deal).

Kia Soul 5 Of 13There’s a loud whine as the car drives – one that my dad insists is caused by air running through the rotors, but clearly is a failing wheel bearing (or two). I will eventually convince him to fix that. In the meantime, my dad’s most immediate concern has recently been keeping the Soul from getting stolen.

Why? Because some teenagers figured out how to steal Kia products with a USB cable and told everyone on TikTok about it. I’d like to say this is some sort of hi-tech kid hacking, but it turns out someone just realized that a bunch of Kia and Hyundai products were sold without the immobilizers common on lots of modern cars. If you knock the cylinder pin-tumbler part of the lock off (which you can do with almost no effort), you can just stick a USB-sized whatever in the hole and the car starts like normal.

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This omission was probably a cost-save, but between the recall and the $200 million settlement, I’m not sure that’s ultimately worked out for the company.

So when my dad got a letter stating that he could get a free steering wheel lock, he jumped at the chance. More specifically, he called Kia (there was a QR code but my father was not interested in trying to make that work), and they verified his ownership and sent a lock in the mail.

“It came in a biiig box” my dad told me, pantomiming something about the size of a rifle.

As you can see in the video below, it works well enough:

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A post shared by The Autopian (@theautopian)

After playing with it I’m now convinced that we should take two cars with steering wheel locks and try to race them around a track. We might have to get out of the car a few times, but I think it’s doable.

This also revealed a key difference between my father and me. I viewed this development with some incredulity. As a journalist, I was initially disturbed that Kia’s solution was to just send my dad a knockoff brand The Club (there’s also a software upgrade coming that’s maybe of some utility). I mentioned this in Slack and everyone else basically felt the same.

My dad just shrugged it off.

It was a major inconvenience to have to worry about his car getting pinched, but the Soul’s actual value has to be under $2,000, so a $30 steering wheel lock theoretically raises the value of the car by a not insignificant amount. My dad purchased this car for around $15,000 more than a decade ago so his lifetime running costs have been ridiculously low.

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I do worry about my dad’s Soul a little bit (the capital S kind). I hope and suspect my parents will live a lot longer so they’ll likely need another car sooner rather than later, though the next one might be their last car. The Soul works, and they can afford to keep it going (once they replace the front wheel bearings). I’m not sure what they could replace it with that’s in their budget and can stay on the road long enough to serve them.

If this keeps the Soul on the road for a few more miles I guess that’s good enough.

[Ed Note: An automaker sending a customer a club is just absurd and hilarious to me. Such a mechanical and old school device to be sending customers in 2023. -DT]

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Mister Win
Mister Win
6 months ago

All cars should come with the Club and a kill switch, one of them old school kinds with the round key. It’s an oversight that bothers me deeply, like how electronic devices aren’t waterproof or shockproof unless you pay extra

Kelli DeGarmo
Kelli DeGarmo
9 months ago

Now Kia needs to admit that they used defective paint, specifically the Snow White Pearl & repaint the ones with problems or issue a recall & repaint all of them then I might be happy. Other paint colors have been affected, but the majority have been the ones with the Snow White Pearl paint. I haven’t been able to wash my 2014 Sorento in a long time because I’m afraid it will lose even more paint. Yes, it literally washes or comes off in sizable sheets. No small chips or little pieces, I’m talking large sheet like areas the size of a person’s open hand. My Sorento used to be gorgeous, now it looks like a horribly filthy & unloved piece of ????. The area on the hood where the paint first began to disappear has now started to rust. I have left message after message with the Kia dealer I purchased it from asking when they plan on repainting vehicles, either on a case by case basis or by issuing a recall to repaint all cars with the bad paint. Of course no one has had the guts to return my call. It started off as a small chip on the hood that I thought was caused by a rock or some other type of debris. Then a day or two later after being washed, the paintless area had grown from a small chip to a bare metal area the size of my open palm. Now there is another sizeable area on the passenger’s side door where the paint was there one day & gone the next. There are also areas starting to curl & peel away all along the bottom of the rear hatch window. I’m so horrified, disappointed & heartbroken because I love my Sorento. I owned a white 2003 one until 2016. I loved it so much that I bought a 2014 one. Choosing white again. I never bothered to look at any other SUV’s, I wanted another Sorento so that’s what I got. Now I’m beginning to regret that decision. Have any other Kia owners experienced any paint problems??

Alex Taaffe
Alex Taaffe
9 months ago

He should probably replace his spark plugs. If they were not changed out of frugality, I would imagine the loss in fuel economy over time is greater than the cost of a set of plugs

Mpphoto
Mpphoto
9 months ago

A couple weeks ago I noticed a Kia Soul parked on my street that hadn’t been parked there before. It has a bright yellow Club-like device on the steering wheel. Then I heard about the recall of the Soul (and other vehicles) due to fire risk. So the owner of this Soul has to park their car on the street in case it catches fire, but since it can easily be stolen, they have to park it with the fake Club installed.

CrystalEyes
CrystalEyes
9 months ago

After one of our work vans was stolen for a second time, they finally took my advice and got a club for it. I showed up for work one day to find the club gone and the steering wheel with a slot hack sawed through it. At least the van was still there.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
9 months ago

Okay, but WHAT is going on with that poor steering wheel? What causes it to just like, molt like that???

CUlater
CUlater
9 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Ah, the distinctive mottling of fine aged synthetic bonded Corinthian pleather…

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
9 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

That can happen to leather-wrapped steering wheels if they are not regularly cleaned of the oils and dirt and other crap left by our grubby human hands.

Had it happen to a couple of my cars before I learned why it happens, and I’ve seen it in dozens of cars of all makes.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
9 months ago

I noticed a Forte5 regularly street parked with a club parked near my place about the same time as this really started to get attention. I think before they were sending free clubs out, assuming they’re all bright orange.

About 3-4 years ago, a Rio belonging to a former coworker as his now-wife’s commuter was stolen from outside their apartment. They were totally fine with this actually as it had been their good car for a while and did something like 20k/year and was a bit tired, and because it was early in or just before the pandemic and they didn’t need two good cars to commute (they lived close to his job and also had a beater Tacoma). This was years before it got attention but it clicked in hindsight on the how/why it happened.
That instance was amusing, but it won’t be so amusing if someone tries to break into my dad’s Niro despite those being pushbutton start.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
9 months ago

This is what the Hyundai/Kia dealership I worked at was selling (at a hefty mark-up) as well for prevention of this. I’m so glad I don’t work there anymore

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
9 months ago

You’ll never guess what I saw on the Soul next door when I took the dog for his late night walk last night!

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
9 months ago

“It came in a biiig box” my dad told me, pantomiming something about the size of a rifle.

He must have thought it was a “major award!”

Last edited 9 months ago by Hotdoughnutsnow
Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago

Was it something Italian?

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