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Hyundai, Kia Release Free Anti-Theft Software To Combat Stolen Car Epidemic

Models using physical keys can be stolen with a USB cable, which is as big of a problem as it sounds.

Thousands of Hyundai and Kia vehicles with physical keys have been easily stolen in the past year due to their lack of an immobilizer. Theft and insurance rates have skyrocketed as a result, and both automakers finally claim to have a fix that addresses the issue. Starting today, Hyundai dealers will have access to a software update for affected cars that’s available at no cost to owners. This, the automaker hopes, will curb the rate of thefts and give owners greater peace of mind. Kia also has a plan, although it has not been detailed so formally.

Not every Hyundai with a physical ignition key is immediately eligible for the company’s fix. It’s starting with 2017-2020 model year Elantras, 2015-2019 Sonatas, and 2020-2021 Venues. When June 2023 comes around, the rest of the cars in the automaker’s lineup will be eligible. Hyundai provided a chart, embedded below, to clarify the timing of the process.


“Some 2011-2022 model year vehicles without engine immobilizers cannot accommodate the software upgrade,” a press release from the automaker reads. “For these customers, Hyundai is finalizing a program to reimburse them for their purchase of steering wheel locks. Hyundai will provide these customers with more detail in the very near future.”

In other words, some people who bought new Hyundai products relatively recently are still being left out to dry. Keep in mind, Hyundai and Kia only started installing immobilizers in their vehicles starting in 2021.

The software update works in a simple manner. When the doors are locked with the key fob, an “ignition kill” feature is activated. This effectively means that, as long as the car is locked with the fob, it can’t be stolen with something as simple as a USB cable. You might get a smashed window, but a kid who saw the trend on TikTok probably isn’t going to get away with your car.

Vehicles with the software update will receive window decals to indicate the fix has been completed.

Hyundai and Kia belong to the same parent company, and the latter also has a similar software initiative. After reaching out to the automaker, a spokesperson told us “Kia has completed development of enhanced security software to restrict the unauthorized operation of vehicle ignition systems on certain models not equipped with an immobilizer. Kia has already started notifying owners about this free software upgrade and anticipates making it available to most owners of affected vehicles over the next few months.” Owners can use the automaker’s owner portal to check if their vehicle is eligible for the upgrade.

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