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More than 4 million vehicles are eligible for the new software, which prevents the vehicle from starting without a key in the ignition
Hyundai announced today that it will provide certain vehicles with a free “ignition kill” software update designed to prevent vehicle thefts. The automaker says the new software will keep cars from starting without a key in the ignition, a trick that gained headlines after being showcased in TikTok videos. Kia also plans to offer a similar update.
Among 2015-2019 model-year vehicles, theft claims were nearly twice as common for Hyundai and Kia vehicles as a group than for all other manufacturers, according to a recent report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), which tracks insurance claims.
The software update is only for vehicles with a physical ignition key and is available starting today for more than 1 million 2017-2020 Elantra sedans, 2015-2019 Sonata sedans, and 2020-2021 Venue SUVs. About 3 million more vehicles will be eligible in June. Although the software update will be provided for free, it’s not part of a recall.
As a result of high theft claims, USA Today reports that some insurance companies have stopped issuing new policies for some Hyundai and Kia vehicles. CR reached out to two of those insurers, Progressive and State Farm, to see if they will issue new policies for cars that get the software update. We have not heard back yet.
The HLDI says that Hyundai and Kia vehicles from the 2015-2019 model years are easier to steal because many of them lack engine immobilizers, which prevent a car from being “hot-wired,” or started without the proper key in the ignition. Although 96 percent of vehicles had engine immobilizers as standard equipment in 2015, the feature was standard on only 26 percent of Hyundai and Kia models.
Although Hyundai and Kia are separate brands, the Hyundai Motor Company is the largest shareholder in Kia Motors, with 33.88 percent ownership. The two brands share many of the same parts from the same suppliers.
In a statement, Kia told CR that it has completed the development of a similar software update and has already started notifying some owners. Other Kia owners will be able to get the update “over the next few months,” according to the automaker.
Hyundai says its software update will set the factory-installed alarm system and activate an “ignition kill” feature if the vehicle’s doors are locked with a key fob. Drivers must use the key fob to unlock the doors to deactivate the feature. The update itself will take about an hour, and dealerships will also affix stickers to a window in the vehicle advertising its enhanced anti-theft software.
Some vehicles aren’t compatible with the software update. Instead, Hyundai says it will reimburse owners for purchasing steering wheel locks. Hyundai told CR that it’s also distributing steering wheel locks through local police departments.
No matter what you drive, Consumer Reports recommends locking your car when it’s unattended and not leaving any valuables in plain sight.
Owners can go to hyundaiantitheft.com and input their vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if their car or SUV is eligible for the free software update.
Eligible in June 2023
2018-2020 Elantra GT
2011-2014 Genesis Coupe
2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport
2013-2022 Santa Fe
2019 Santa Fe XL
2012-2017 and 2019-2021 Veloster
Despite my love for quirky, old European sedans like the Renault Medallion, it’s my passion to help others find a safe, reliable car that still puts a smile on their face—even if they’re stuck in traffic. When I’m not behind the wheel or the keyboard, you can find me exploring a new city on foot or planning my next trip.
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