17 states require Hyundai and Kia to recall cars for TikTok thefts

The saga of the “Kia Boys” TikTok trend continues, as attorneys general in 17 different states are now demanding that Hyundai and Kia recall millions of cars. Months ago, TikTok was inundated with people stealing certain Hyundai and Kia models that weren’t equipped with an ignition button, proving they could be stolen with nothing more than a screwdriver and a USB cable . While Hyundai and Kia have issued software fixes to prevent further theft, 17 different states believe the two Korean brands have not done enough and want their affected cars recalled.

Some Hyundai and Kia cars, between 2011 and 2022, were sold without immobilizers, making them easier to steal. Engine immobilizers are simple: they use a chip in the car’s steering column and a separate chip in the key, which communicate with each other when the key is turned, allowing the car to start. However, models sold without an immobilizer were incredibly easy to steal. So much so that some insurance companies did not take out new policies for these cars.

Since then, Hyundai has released a free software patch that should prevent any Kia Boys from stealing their cars. The “ignition kill” software prevents the engine from starting after the car has been locked by the key fob. Once unlocked by the key fob, it will allow the engine to restart. In addition, all Kia models that cannot be equipped with this software will be equipped with a free steering wheel lock, to prevent any rascal from being able to drive off in a stolen car.


That’s apparently not enough, according to California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Bonta leads the coalition of attorneys general who wrote a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), demanding a recall.

“Ultimately, the failure of Kia and Hyundai to install standard safety features on many of their vehicles has put vehicle owners and the public at risk,” Attorney General Bonta said in a recent statement. . “We are now calling on the federal government to demand that these companies correct their mistake through a national recall and assist us in our continued efforts to protect the public from these dangerous vehicles.”

However, NHTSA says a federal recall is not something that can be implemented in this situation, as thefts are criminal offenses, which fall under the jurisdiction of local law enforcement.

Since Hyundai and Kia software patches are not official recalls, they are not monitored in the same way and therefore it is unclear how many affected cars are still on the road. “Hyundai and Kia will not be obligated to notify their owners in the same manner as they would if this were a recall,” said Michael Brooks, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. NBC 5.

At this time, there are no federal recalls on the affected Hyundai and Kia models, but NHTSA is in communication with both brands. However, Hyundai says its software fix is ‚Äč‚Äčavailable for nearly four million affected cars and is working with AAA to secure new customers with the affected models.

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