Kia and Hyundai Settle, but What Does This Mean for Car Owners?

The Kia TikTok Challenge is a story that has rapidly taken root and quickly blossomed into automotive folklore that Kia and Hyundai can no longer ignore.  

As a result, they’ve reached a proposed $200 million settlement to end a class-action lawsuit brought by car owners whose vehicles are easy to steal because they lack anti-theft software. According to Reuters, $145 million of the settlement goes to the out-of-pocket expenses of owners whose cars were stolen. 

This pertains specifically to Kia’s made between 2011-2021 and Hyundai’s from 2015-2021, not equipped with immobilizers. As a result, what began as the “Kia Boyz Challenge” has morphed into a serious issue for the companies, their customers, and insurance providers.

And, as reported in Automotive News this week, even the latest proposed software fix is causing some issues. Kia and Hyundai dealers have been told, “There are problems with a software fix that’s being offered as a way to prevent vehicles from being hot-wired. The Kia bulletin for the Optima says the upgrade causes the alarm to go off with remote start.” 

So, with all of that going on, let’s review how Hyundai and Kia got to this point and how you can safeguard your vehicle from unplanned joyrides or theft. 

The History: Kia, Hyundai, and the “Kia Boyz Challenge” 

The Kia Boyz Challenge emerged on social media, with young people showcasing how quickly they could break into and start up Kia and Hyundai vehicles.  

The trend gained alarming traction, spotlighting the security flaws in these vehicles. But unfortunately, the challenge also prompted an equally swift reaction from insurance companies.  

Concerned about the potential for increased claims, Progressive, State Farm, and other insurance providers refuse to cover specific Kia and Hyundai models unless owners have taken preventive measures to bolster the security of their vehicles. 

The Settlement: Monetary Compensation and Preventive Measures 

As part of the settlement, Kia and Hyundai have established a compensation plan for affected customers. Owners of vehicles completely written off due to theft can receive up to $6,125, while those whose car’s sustained damages are eligible for a maximum of $3,375. This compensation also covers additional costs incurred due to increased insurance rates, car rental, towing, tickets, and other related expenses. 

Beyond these payouts, Kia and Hyundai have taken active steps to address the issue. For example, they’ve pledged to provide free software upgrades for vulnerable vehicles and to distribute steering wheel locks free of charge.  

These locks, also known as “The Club”, have been given out in collaboration with regional police departments. As per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s February report, over 26,000 wheel locks have been distributed since November 2022. 

Safeguarding Your Vehicle: Good, Better, Best Options 

Good: The first line of defense is the steering wheel lock. Both Kia and Hyundai are currently offering these as a countermeasure for cars that cannot be upgraded with higher security features. While not foolproof, steering wheel locks can serve as a deterrent and slow down would-be thieves. 

Better: An upgraded security system offers a higher level of protection. Aftermarket alarm systems can provide enhanced security features, such as shock sensors that trigger the alarm if someone tries to break in or automatic engine cut-off systems that prevent the vehicle from being started without the proper key. 

Best: A stolen vehicle recovery system, like Elo GPS, is a comprehensive solution that combines real-time tracking capabilities with advanced anti-theft features. If your vehicle is moved without your consent, Elo GPS alerts you instantly, enabling you to notify the authorities promptly. Not only do you get a robust feature set, but you’ll get access to a 24/7 stolen vehicle recovery hotline with a team of experts on standby ready to help you not just locate your car but recover your vehicle faster. 

Protect Your Car 

While the recent Kia and Hyundai settlement highlights a major concern, it also provides an opportunity for car owners to assess and upgrade their vehicle security.  

From steering wheel locks to advanced GPS systems like Elo GPS, a range of options exist to help you safeguard your investment. Protecting your car from theft is crucial for your peace of mind and a significant step in ensuring that your insurance provider continues to cover your vehicle.