To stop a wave of auto thefts linked to a TikTok challenge that officials say has resulted in at least 14 confirmed wrecks and eight fatalities, Hyundai and Kia are releasing software patches.
Millions of automobiles lack a crucial anti-theft component, a flaw that was exploited on social media and resulted in widespread car theft. The updates are free for these vehicles.
The theft alarm software logic is being updated by the released software to increase the alarm sound duration from 30 seconds to one minute and mandate that the key is in the ignition switch to turn the car on.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Tuesday that the software update is available for about 3.8 million Hyundai vehicles and 4.5 million Kia vehicles.
Updates for approximately 4 million vehicles, starting with models from 2017 to 2020 Elantra, 2015 to 2019 Sonata, and 2020 to 2021 Venue, will begin on Tuesday, according to Hyundai. By June, the software upgrade should be accessible for the remaining qualifying automobiles.
According to Randy Parker, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, “We have prioritized the upgrade’s availability for owners and lessees of our highest selling vehicles and those most frequently targeted by thieves for dealers to service them first.”
Kia claimed that the software updates for some vehicles had already started.
In September, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute discovered that the car theft claim rate for Hyundais and Kias without immobilizers was 2.18 per 1,000 insured vehicle years.
The rate for the remainder of the industry as a whole was 1.21. One car is insured for an entire year during an insured vehicle year.
The institution compared vehicles from the 2015 through 2019 model years. It looked at 2021-era accusations of vehicle theft.
According to the automaker, immobilizers are standard on all Hyundai cars created after November 1, 2021.
According to the NHTSA, a TikTok social media challenge brought attention to the lack of an immobilizer in the cars and led to at least 14 recorded collisions and eight fatalities.
The task demonstrates to TikTok users how to use a USB cord and a screwdriver to hot-wire Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
In October, a police commissioner suggested that the TikTok challenge may have been to blame for an automobile accident in Buffalo, New York, that claimed the lives of four teens. Six kids in all were in the swerving Kia when it crashed, according to Buffalo police. The automobile was thought to have been stolen.
Later this month, Hyundai and Kia will begin rolling out software updates. Subsequent phases will follow over the coming months.
Additionally, Hyundai will give vehicle owners window decals that warn would-be thieves that the vehicle has anti-theft technology.
For details on the software update, vehicle owners can call Hyundai at 800-633-5151 or Kia at 800-333-4542.