Hyundai has come up with a plan to protect its most theft-prone vehicles after several videos were posted on social media in recent months showing how easy it is to hotwire the engine and drive away.
We’re talking about certain 2016-2021 Accent, Elantra, Elantra GT, Sonata, Veloster, Venue, Kona, Tucson, Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport, Santa Fe XL and Palisade models with a physical ignition key and no engine immobilizer. Those with push-button start are not affected.
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A number of 2011-2021 Kia vehicles are known to have the same problem.
Facing the heat from customers, Hyundai is now selling a $170 anti-theft security kit in the U.S. that includes a kill switch and alarm. The installation takes about two and a half hours and can be done by any Hyundai dealer, a company spokesman told Automotive News.
How much that installation costs can vary from one dealer to another, however. The principal attorney for MLG, which filed a class action lawsuit against the Korean automaker (one of 15 that have been filed so far in 14 U.S. states) hinted that the installation will likely be $500 based on quotes from "a number of dealers who are expected to be doing the installs."
Hyundai Canada has yet to respond to our request for further information about the availability and full cost of this anti-theft kit north of the border.
Automotive News also reports that Hyundai is working on a software update as an extra layer of security. The update is expected to be available for certain vehicles in the first half of 2023, with the remaining vehicles to follow later.
Kia doesn’t offer a similar security kit yet. In parts of the U.S. where more Hyundai and Kia vehicles are being stolen, the two companies are working with the police to alert owners and distribute steering wheel locks for free.
If your Hyundai or Kia uses a physical key, you can check your owner’s manual or contact a local dealer to know for sure whether it is equipped with an engine immobilizer.
Since the start of 2022, class action lawsuits against Hyundai and Kia have been filed in Canada, too, but these have to do with separate issues including electrical shorts possibly causing a fire as well as excessive engine oil consumption.