Theft deterrent software has been developed by Hyundai and Kia following an increase in reported vehicle thefts. The affected vehicles lacked an immobilizer, and the software updates include extending the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requiring the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on.
The effort is in response to a TikTok social media challenge that has resulted in at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities. The videos that circulated online detailed how to start the vehicles without a key. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges owners of these vehicles to contact Hyundai or Kia for information on the update.
Hyundai will also provide its customers with a window sticker alerting would-be thieves that the vehicle is equipped with anti-theft protection. The stickers and software updates will roll out in a phased approach over the next several months. Kia is also rolling out its software updates in a phased approach.
Concurrently, the companies have been working with law enforcement agencies to provide steering wheel locks to law enforcement agencies. NHTSA encourages interested vehicle owners to contact local law enforcement to see if a wheel lock is available.