Hyundai and KIA release software updates for millions of car owners in an effort to combat a viral TikTok challenge linked to a rash of stolen cars, fender benders and more than a dozen fatalities in the US.
A software update has been released for millions of Hyundai and KIA car owners across the US in an effort to stop a deadly TikTok challenge that has run amok.
The so-called “KIA challenge” was started in the US city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin by a gang of teenage thieves, known as the “KIA Boyz.”
In 2021, the teen thieves began posting instructional videos showing viewers how bypass the vehicles security system and hotwire the cars using just a screwdriver and a USB cable.
The hack affected all cars made by both manufacturers from 2015 to 2019 without push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices – totaling 8.3 million vehicles.
As one TikTok user described: The KIA challenge is simply to steal one of the vehicles in question and post a video of the act on TikTok.
The KIA challenge, like other challenges that have gone viral among followers of the social media app, started as a prank, but eventually turned deadly.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the challenge “has led to at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities."
That’s besides the thousands of KIA’s and Hyundai’s reported stolen across the US by copycat theives since the challenge posted.
This TikTok user took a video of her car being hacked. The post has gotten almost half a million likes.
The free upgrade will be offered for 3.8 million Hyundai and 4.5 million Kia vehicles in the United States, the automakers and NHTSA said.
The vehicle models from those years are missing electronic immobilizers, which prevent break-ins and bypassing the ignition, reports The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute.
The IIHS reports the feature is standard on nearly all vehicles made by other manufacturers during that period.
The data also showed that car insurance theft claims for 2015-2019 Hyundai and Kia vehicles in 2022 were almost two times higher than all other manufacturers from of the same years.
The software "updates the theft alarm software logic to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on," NHTSA said.
Last month, two major insurance companies have stopped offering new policies to owners of Hyundai and Kia vehicles at high risk of theft, USA Today reported.
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