Hyundai, Kia offer free software update in response to viral TikTok challenge


Hyundai and Kia have responded to a social media challenge on TikTok, which has led to a surge in car thefts across the United States. 

Dubbed the "Kia Challenge", the trend involved TikTok videos that detail how to bypass the security systems of certain models of Hyundai and Kia vehicles. It highlighted the lack of electronic immobilisers in many 2015-2019 models.

In response, the carmakers are now offering free software upgrades for approximately 8.3 million cars in the US, which will extend the length of the theft alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and will require a key in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on.

The upgrades modify certain vehicle control modules, which will lock the doors with the key fob and activate an “ignition kill” feature to prevent the vehicles from being started when subjected to the popularised theft mode.

Vehicle owners are instructed to take their cars to a local dealership for the upgrades.

The models that are eligible for the update include 2017-2020 Elantra, 2015-2019 Sonata, and 2020-2021 Venue vehicles. Additional models, such as Kona, Palisade, and Santa Fe vehicles, will be serviced starting in June 2023. To find out when they are eligible for the upgrade, vehicle owners can input their vehicle's VIN number on the Hyundai website. The upgraded vehicles will also receive a window decal indicating they have been equipped with anti-theft technology.

Previously, Hyundai was charging owners a minimum of $170 for security kits to fix the issue, which could cost up to $500 with installation and labour. In addition to the software update, the carmakers were offering wheel locks (to prevent thefts) for some owners, with a total of 26,000 wheel locks handed out since November 2022.

By offering these free software updates, Hyundai and Kia are taking an important step to help prevent car thefts and improve the safety of their vehicles. This move is expected to alleviate the safety concerns raised by the viral social media trend.

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