Some Hyundai, Kia Models Are Way too Easy to Steal, Lack Immobilizers

The situation has gotten so bad that some U.S. cities are asking the companies for a fix.

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Gray sedan driving on an urban highway.
If you see a Hyundai or Kia being “driven like it’s stolen,” maybe it is.
Photo: Hyundai

Having your car stolen is bad enough, but finding out that stealing it was super easy for the thieves and that the information on how to do it is widely available online is even worse. According to a report published on Thursday by Automotive News, many Hyundai and Kia owners are finding themselves in that situation.

While we don’t want to go into which models are affected (for obvious reasons), thieves can bypass the chip in the key by hooking up a USB phone charger to a specific circuit in the steering column. Many modern vehicles have vehicle immobilizers to prevent this kind of thing, but Hyundai and Kia opted to omit this feature in many of their cars.

The theft issue has gotten so bad that some municipalities, like Milwaukee, have attempted to get Hyundai and Kia to do something about the lackluster security on their cars, but it would seem that those pleas have been largely ignored.

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Dealers are also struggling with the aftermath of the increased thefts as they struggle to acquire the parts necessary to repair vehicles that have been recovered. Things like lock cylinders, for example, are in high demand, but due to ongoing supply chain issues, they’re hard to get ahold of. This leaves many owners of affected vehicles in an unpleasant limbo.

“Hyundai Motor America is concerned with the rise in local auto thefts,” said a Hyundai representative in a statement. “The safety and well-being of our customers and the community is and will remain our top priority. These vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and engine immobilizers are standard equipment on all new Hyundai vehicles.”

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Kia didn’t immediately respond to our request for comment.