Per the Maryland State Police: The Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council is urging motorists who own certain makes and models of Hyundai and Kia cars to reach out to the automakers for a free security software update following a nationwide surge in thefts that led to at least 14 crashes and eight fatalities.
The theft deterrent software is designed for millions of Hyundai and Kia vehicles that lack an immobilizer. The upgrade is available free of charge to vehicle owners. As part of the software update, the theft alarm software logic will extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and now requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on.
The software upgrades were announced following a viral TikTok social media challenge which showed viewers how to hotwire the vehicles. About 3.8 million Hyundais and 4.5 million Kias are eligible for the update, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
To see if your vehicle is eligible for the free updates, contact Hyundai at 1-800-633-5151 or Kia at 1-800-333-4542. Hyundai, which launched its service campaign last month, is first offering a software upgrade to car owners with the following vehicle models:
- 2017 – 2020 Elantra
- 2015 – 2019 Sonata
- 2020 – 2021 Venue
According to the NHTSA, Hyundai will send customers a window sticker alerting would-be thieves that the vehicle is equipped with anti-theft protection. Hyundai will send out the stickers and roll out software updates in a phased approach, with subsequent phases over the next several months. Kia is also rolling out its free software updates in a phased approach.
The Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council reports that there are several common sense steps you can take to reduce the chances of your vehicle being stolen. This includes:
- Never leave your key alone in the vehicle.
- Close and lock all windows and doors when your park.
- Always park in well-lit areas.
- Never leave valuables within site in your vehicle
- Utilize an alarm system and/or an anti-theft device.