A class action lawsuit has been filed by lawyers who say a defect in Hyundai and Kia vehicles makes them “easy to steal,” “unsafe” and “worth less than they should be.”
The viral trend started last year with a series of TikTok videos in which young car thieves showed just how easy it was to steal Hyundai and Kia vehicles without a key.
The problem affects certain makes and models of Kia and Hyundai vehicles made before the 2022 model year, but only those that require a mechanical key — not cars with “push-to-start” ignitions.
Kia thieves know they can break a back window without setting off the alarm to get into the car.
Once inside, it only takes a few seconds to rip off a plastic covering on the steering column, remove another fragile component over the ignition, and insert a USB port, knife, screwdriver, or the tip of a phone charger into the hole — and the car starts.
They are sharing videos of their joyrides and thefts on social media under the hashtag #kiaboyz.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, Undersheriff Mike Martin warned:
“The Kia’s and Hyundai’s have, what I call, a design flaw that allows them to be stolen easier. Within seconds, those cars can be compromised and be started with a USB port or even a pocket knife.”
Thefts are up more than 1,000% in some cities, such as St. Louis, where Mayor Tishaura Jones blamed Hyundai and Kia for causing a “public safety crisis” by failing to put engine immobilizers in vehicles built before the 2022 model-year.
Engine immobilizers are electronic security devices that make it nearly impossible to start a vehicle without using an authorized key. They are now standard on all vehicles built after November 2021.