Hyundai and Kia are addressing the wave of thefts of their vehicles by introducing a free software update for millions of vehicles. Crooks recorded the relatively simple process of stealing the models and posted the videos on social media, especially TikTok. According to NHTSA, this trend has caused at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities

The software will make it so that locking the doors with the key fob will activate an "ignition kill" feature. Also, the length of the alarm sound will increase to one minute when activated, rather than the current 30 seconds. Owners will have to use the fob to unlock the vehicle to make the key start the engine.

Gallery: 2019 Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai eventually plans to install this software upgrade on nearly four million vehicles. The first phase is available now and covers more than one million examples of the:

  • 2017-2020 Elantra
  • 2015-2019 Sonata
  • 2020-2021 Venue

In June 2023, the software upgrade will be available for far more vehicles. They are:

  • 2018-2022 Accent
  • 2011-2016 Elantra
  • 2021-2022 Elantra
  • 2018-2020 Elantra GT
  • 2011-2014 Genesis Coupe
  • 2018-2022 Kona
  • 2020-2021 Palisade
  • 2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport
  • 2013-2022 Santa Fe
  • 2019 Santa Fe XL
  • 2011-2014 Sonata
  • 2011-2022 Tucson
  • 2012-2017, 2019-2021 Veloster

Kia tells that it is still finalising the list of affected vehicles. They will be certain 2011 to 2021 models with a “turn to start” ignition. 

"We have prioritised the upgrade’s availability for owners and lessees of our highest selling vehicles and those most targeted by thieves in order for dealers to service them first," said Hyundai Motor America CEO Randy Parker in the automaker's announcement of the fix.

Owners will need to take their vehicle to a Hyundai dealer for the software upgrade. The process will take less than an hour. The repair will include putting decals on the windows that will tell potential thieves this model has the fix.

Hyundai will notify affected vehicle owners through mail, email, and phone. It also has a dedicated website at where a person can enter the model's VIN and find out whether it is eligible for the software update.

Some 2011-2022 model year Hyundai and Kia models without engine immobilisers don't support this software upgrade. The Hyundai will reimburse these owners for purchasing a steering wheel lock. The company will announce details about this process later. "We have set up an owner’s website for ordering a free-of-charge steering wheel lock that will be sent to their residence," a Kia spokesperson told us.