Nearly 5 million Kia & Hyundai vehicles still need free fix to prevent theft

Thousands of Kia and Hyundai owners continue to have their vehicles stolen each year thanks to viral TikTok videos showing thieves how to do it.  Millions of them haven't taken advantage of a free fix to prevent it.

Vehicle history provider CARFAX has teamed up with Kia and Hyundai to help spread the word.

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CARFAX says 4.9 million vehicles in the U.S. haven't been fixed yet, including 433,000 in Texas and 132,000 in Houston.

"I had gone to my daughter’s house to take her some Tylenol because she had just had a miscarriage and she was hurting. I got out of the car, went in, took the Tylenol, dropped it off, came right back out and the car was gone," said Rosalie Gordon.

That's how fast Rosalie Gordon says her 2019 Kia Forte was stolen.  She says it was found abandoned blocks away.

"The steering column under the steering wheel was torn down.  I had a charger there. They took the charger and stuck it in the keyboard, and turned it on," explained Gordon.


That's the method taught in viral TikTok videos by the Kia Boyz that police say has led to a rash of Kia and Hyundai vehicle thefts across the country.  They can be stolen in as little as 20 seconds.  It affects model years 2010 to 2021 that use a key, not a key fob.

"The cars don’t have what’s called an immobilizer. But the immobilizer is not required by federal regulations. That’s why there is not a recall," said Patrick Olsen with CARFAX.

Kia logo (Photo Illustration by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images); Hyundai logo (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Kia and Hyundai mailed letters to vehicle owners offering a free fix, but nearly 5 million vehicles haven't been fixed yet.

"The fixes are either A) a software upgrade that improves the length of time the alarm stays on in a car, or B) provides the owners with a steering wheel block so that even if they’re able to get the car started, they won't be able to drive the car," said Olsen.

Olsen says that vehicle owners can either call a Kia or Hyundai dealer, or buy a CARFAX vehicle history report, to see if their car needs the fix.  CARFAX offers free vehicle reports to used car shoppers on its site that will include the information.  You can find your VIN number on the inside of the driver's door.

Gordon says she wishes hers had been fixed.  

"I'm very emotional and very sad. I feel like I’m about to lose everything," said Gordon.  "I don’t know what else I’m going to do."

Kia and Hyundai started adding immobilizers to new vehicles in late 2021, so newer models already have the fix.