Hyundai, Kia to update car software in response to TikTok challenge

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Posted at 1:40 PM, Feb 15, 2023

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced this week that owners of some Hyundai and Kia vehicles will be eligible to have new software installed to prevent thefts for free.

The updates come as some users have reported their automobiles being stolen following a TikTok challenge.

The NHTSA says that 3.8 million Hyundai and 4.5 million Kia vehicles will be involved in the upgrades. The NHTSA said that theft deterrent software will be installed on these models.

“The software updates the theft alarm software logic to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on,” the NHTSA said.

Both automakers will be issuing the upgrades in a phased approach.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said many Kia and Hyundai vehicles made between 2015-19 were not installed with electronic immobilizers. These vehicles have also become more expensive to insure.

“Our earlier studies show that vehicle theft losses plunged after immobilizers were introduced,” said Highway Loss Data InstituteNice president Matt Moore. “Unfortunately, Hyundai and Kia have lagged behind other automakers in making them standard equipment.”

Hyundai said it is working on a reimbursement program for those who purchased anti-theft devices.

“Hyundai is committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of our products through continuous improvement and is pleased to provide affected customers with an additional theft deterrent through this software upgrade,” said Randy Parker, CEO, Hyundai Motor America. “We have prioritized the upgrade’s availability for owners and lessees of our highest-selling vehicles and those most targeted by thieves in order for dealers to service them first.”

The NHTSA wants owners of these vehicles to contact Hyundai (800-633-5151) or Kia (800-333-4542) for information on the update.