Hyundai Motor Company Dealership. Hyundai is a South Korean Multinational Automotive Manufacturer VI


Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.

Owners of certain Hyundai and Kia models can soon worry less about whether their cars may be stolen. The twin South Korean automakers are rolling out a software update to fix a security weakness in millions of late-model cars. 

The cars' vulnerability to theft was highlighted by a TikTok challenge that went viral in 2021 and is believed to have led to an increase in car thefts and at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities.

The vehicles lack an ignition immobilizer that prevents the cars from being started without an authorized key. Thieves have been able to steal the cars by using a USB cable and a screwdriver, a method detailed in the TikTok challenge videos. 

The software update the automakers are rolling out extends the vehicles' alarm to 1 minute from 30 seconds and requires the key to be in the ignition to turn on the vehicles.

GalleryThese States Are the Worst for Car Theft

About 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias with key-activated ignitions are eligible for the software update, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The affected Hyundai vehicles are:

  • 2017-2020 Elantra
  • 2015-2019 Sonata
  • 2020-2021 Venue

A list of affected Kia models wasn't immediately available, but Kia says the vehicles are from the 2011-2021 model years.

The software update is scheduled to be rolled out in phases over the next couple of months with the first update available beginning this month. Vehicle owners can call Hyundai at 800-633-5151 and Kia at 800-333-4542 for information.

The automakers have been working with local law enforcement in 12 states to provide owners of affected vehicles with steering wheel locks, NHTSA said. The agency is encouraging vehicle owners to contact local police to see if one is available, or you could just buy your own steering wheel lock.

Cheapism in the News