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Kia, Hyundai owners can receive free software updates to protect vehicles from thieves

Jul 31, 2023

Staff, News4JAX

Hyundai and Kia will provide free theft deterrent software updates to millions of vehicle owners whose vehicles lack an immobilizer, making them suspectable to car thieves.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office shared the news in an effort to help residents protect their vehicles.

The update will extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on.

The software updates are in response to a string of recent thefts stemming from a TikTok challenge that has spread nationwide. The challenge exploits a design vulnerability in 2010 - 2021 Hyundai vehicles and 2015 - 2021 Kia vehicles, which allows the ignition to be bypassed using a USB cable.

Deputies said the thieves will break into the vehicle through the window, expose the steering column and fit a USB-A into a matching plug. After the vehicles are stolen, they are usually found disabled or crashed and left running.

Push-button ignition models come with a theft-preventative measure, so those vehicles do no have this issue.

The sheriff’s office urges residents to visit a Hyundai or Kia dealer to receive the update. Deputies also recommend buying a steering wheel lock to protect your vehicle.

“I urge Hyundai and Kia owners to contact their local auto dealer or call the toll-free numbers to obtain the software update to protect your vehicles from thieves,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “We have had these cars stolen locally and have recovered stolen Kias and Hyundais from other jurisdictions in Flagler County. We also encourage you to purchase a steering wheel lock bar and use it every time you leave your car. And remember, never leave your keys in your car.”

Vehicle owners can contact Hyundai at 800-633-5151 or Kia at 800-333-4542 for information on the free update.

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