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Over the past year, we’ve reported on the rash of thefts affecting Hyundai and Kia owners. Social media videos revealed an easy hack that made over eight million vehicles easy to steal in just a few seconds. Finally, a Hyundai and Kia software update to prevent such thefts is on the way.

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata, one of the vehicles getting a software update to prevent thefts.
2015 Hyundai Sonata sedan | Hyundai Motor America

New details about the anti-theft software update

While both brands indicated that an update was on the way, Automotive News has received new information. This includes key details about when the new changes will be available and how the update intends to address these TikTok car thefts.

According to statements from Hyundai, the initial software update will work for over 1 million vehicles. Those included in the first update will be Elantra models from 2017 to 2020, 2015-2019 Hyundai Sonatas, and 2020-2021 Hyundai Venue crossovers. The update for those vehicles should be available within the next month, while the remaining vehicles will have to wait.

What about the other 7 million affected models?

We said that the number of affected vehicles tops 8 million total units, however, the initial software update will only work on roughly 1 million Hyundai models. Those with any of the remaining 7 million theft-prone Hyundai and Kia vehicles will have to wait until at least June to have their vehicles fixed.

What does the Hyundai and Kia software update do to prevent thefts?

The Hyundai Venue was easily stolen in 2020.
2023 Hyundai Venue | Hyundai
Related Hyundai and Kia Owners Denied Insurance Coverage Due to Theft Exploit

Hyundai and Kia Owners Denied Insurance Coverage Due to Theft Exploit

Both Hyundai and KIA are planning updates to the vehicle’s control computers to make thefts easier and close the loophole exposed by online car thieves. For one, the update will extend the car alarm time from 30 seconds to a full minute. However, the true theft prevention update includes a requirement for the key to be in the ignition before the vehicle will start.

Two years and eight fatalities later, Hyundai and KIA finally offer a software update to prevent thefts

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the theft exploit caused a total of 14 crashes and eight fatalities in the two years since it was discovered. Cities like Milwaukee, Seattle, and St Louis have seen triple and quadruple the number of car thefts along the way. In some areas, owners can’t even insure their vehicles.

All this time, Hyundai and KIA have done little to act, stating that they were not legally responsible. Technically speaking, that is correct. At the time of production, there was no federal requirement to include immobilizers on vehicles. That said, mounting lawsuits and recent public pressure have forced the companies to act, though it may be too late.

Despite the massive volume of easily stolen vehicles and drastic spikes in Hyundai and KIA thefts, the best either company could manage came at the cost of the consumer. Anyone with a key-started Korean car could have a security device installed at a cost of at least $500. Other half-hearted measures have included sending steering wheel locks to local police departments for distribution. It may be too little, too late, but finally Hyundai and KIA are addressing the problem in a real way. Hopefully, no more fatalities occur before the larger software update later this summer.