In response to rampant theft caused by security vulnerabilities in Kia and Hyundai vehicles, the automakers have announced sweeping recalls to address the issues. According to some sources, more than 8.3 million of these vehicles can be started without a key due to the lack of an immobilizer.
Most of the vehicles made between 2011 and 2022 by both companies have this flaw, meaning many Kia and Hyundai owners are subject to the recall. To help you find out if your Hyundai or Kia has been recalled, our team put together a short guide.
The trend was started by a group known as the Kia Boyz, who demonstrated a simple way to start Kia cars without an ignition key. Using simple tools and a USB cable, the Kia Boyz showed that they could break into the vehicles and start them in just a few minutes. These videos were later popularized by popular YouTuber Tommy G.
This gave way to the “Kia Challenge,” which encouraged TikTok users to utilize the methods in the video to steal Kias and later, Hyundai vehicles. As the trend grew, so did theft rates of cars made by the two manufacturers – often quite substantially. Between 2019 and 2021, insurance claims for thefts of Kia and Hyundai cars rose 3,246% in Wisconsin, for example.
The Kia Boyz and those who followed were able to start the vehicles without a key due to the lack of an immobilizer in the ignition system. This “kill switch” prevents a car from being started with anything other than a key that corresponds to a chip inside the ignition system. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), only 26% of vehicles made by Hyundai and Kia were equipped with immobilizers. Among cars made by all other manufacturers combined, 96% featured immobilizers.
Government officials at the local, state, and federal levels have urged Kia and Hyundai to rectify the issue as theft increased. Officials cited property damage, injuries, and death associated with the thefts, as well as a disproportionate demand on law enforcement resources as reasons for the automakers to act.
Which Kia and Hyundai Vehicles Are Being Recalled?
A majority of vehicles made by Kia and Hyundai between 2011 and 2022 are subject to the recall. Only a handful of models feature the immobilizer technology that makes them more difficult to steal. In the following sections, you’ll find a complete list of the Kia and Hyundai vehicles being recalled.
Kia Vehicles Being Recalled
The following Kia vehicles fall under the recall and are eligible for free fixes from the manufacturer:
Hyundai Vehicles Being Recalled
The following Hyundai vehicles are eligible for free recall work from the manufacturer:
2013-2020 Elantra GT
2013-2022 Santa Fe
2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport
2019 Santa Fe XL
2012-2017 and 2019-2021 Veloster
2013-2014 Genesis Coupe
How Can I Find Out if My Hyundai or Kia Has Been Recalled?
If you own one of the Hyundai or Kia models listed above, you are likely eligible for the recall. As of July 2023, many owners of the vehicles have received an official notice of recall from the manufacturer. This notice will provide you with the information you need to have the services performed on your car. However, if you haven’t yet received your notice, don’t see your vehicle listed above, or simply want to confirm your recall eligibility, there are a few ways to check.
Before you check your status, you’ll need to locate your vehicle identification number (VIN). Your VIN is located on the vehicle at the bottom of the windshield on the driver’s side and on the door jamb on the driver’s side. Insurance and registration documents will also have your VIN listed.
One way for owners to check on their recall status is to call the manufacturer directly. Kia owners can call Kia Consumer Affairs at 1-800-333-4KIA (4542). Hyundai owners can reach the company’s customer service line at 1-855-671-3059.
However, both automakers offer a free online tool to check your vehicle’s eligibility. You’ll simply need to enter your VIN into the search field on the site, after which you’ll receive a response telling you whether or not your car falls under the recall notice. The links below will take you to the recall eligibility pages.
Kia and Hyundai have attempted to fix the issue with a software update. This update requires the ignition key to be fully inserted to start the vehicles, effectively installing an immobilizer. The new software also upgrades the vehicles’ alarm system logic.
In addition, Hyundai and Kia will provide owners with stickers that make it clear that a vehicle is equipped with anti-theft technology. These stickers can alert potential thieves that the vehicles are no longer able to be started with the TikTok hack.
Some reports say that the recall appointment takes about an hour to complete. Other sources have said the appointment could take between an hour and a half to two hours. You can ask the repair center about their average recall appointment time when you schedule your visit.
Can I Get Paid Out From the Kia and Hyundai Lawsuit?
In addition to the recall, Kia and Hyundai were subject to a class action lawsuit around the theft vulnerability. Attorneys representing Kia and Hyundai owners accused the companies of putting millions of people at risk by choosing not to install immobilizers. In May, the automakers reached a settlement in which they agreed to pay out more than $200 million in benefits to vehicle owners.
Kia and Hyundai owners who suffered losses due to the safety flaw are eligible for compensation. The companies have agreed to pay $3,375 in vehicle and personal property damage compensation and $6,125 in cases of total losses.
With the settlement being reached recently, Hagens Berman Shobol Shapiro LLC – the lead firm in the lawsuit – has yet to set up a claims website for qualifying members. The firm’s website says that websites will be set up soon. You can periodically check the firm’s website for updates. Some owners may be notified of eligibility by mail.
Kia and Hyundai Recalls: What’s Next
In theory, the software update and other measures in the recall should prevent the method popularized on TikTok from working. However, a report from the Associated Press in May said that despite the software update rollout, theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles continued.
This could be due, in part, to only a relatively small percentage of vehicles completing the recall, with many vehicles having yet to fix the vulnerability. But it could also be that the software update and other methods have failed to solve the problem entirely.
If your Hyundai or Kia is eligible for a recall, it’s still a good idea to get the update. Even if it doesn’t completely prevent your car from being stolen, any additional obstacle for would-be car thieves makes your vehicle a less appealing target than ones without the update, which are more vulnerable.