Here's How the Anti-"Kia Boyz" Software Update Works, the TikTok Challenge Is Done

Kia Anti-Theft Logic 10 photos
Photo: Alissa Smart / uwec95 / autoevolution edit
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Last summer, we informed you about a peculiar hot internet trend that had teenagers break into Kia and Hyundai vehicles. For some hard-to-understand reason, social media users felt compelled to start ruining older cars because they did not have an immobilizer. Now, things have fortunately changed, and the belated software update plus the window stickers might deter nefarious actors from engaging in illegal activities.
Almost eight months have passed since we first told you about the TikTok challenge that affected some Kia owners. It did not take much before it spread to its sister company Hyundai too. It got so worse in the past couple of months that some insurers even decided to drop many Kia and Hyundai models. For example, State Farm recently said that over 100 models made by the two South Korean manufacturers between 2015 and 2021 are ineligible for renewing their insurance in some states. Progressive quickly followed suit.

Besides that, some public authorities decided to sue Hyundai and Kia for not coming up with a fix. Seattle, for example, blamed the brands for having to spend too many public funds on tracking stolen vehicles or putting too many officers on such cases.

Essentially, customers who got one of these budget-friendly models as new or used received them without an immobilizer. Some youngsters discovered that vehicles without a push-to-start system can be turned on with a USB cable. They filmed themselves doing that, and the video spread like wildfire on TikTok. Eventually, it worked its way onto YouTube and Instagram.

Hyundai and Kia tried to come up with some temporary solutions for damage control, but nothing truly worked. Some owners even got mad with how the brands managed this fiasco. They were supposed to have access to free steering wheel locks that were sent to specific Police precincts, but many drivers attempted to get one and failed.

Fortunately, there is a fix that appears to do something useful for Kia and Hyundai owners whose cars have a key lock system in place. The software update can be done for free until next year, and it programs a couple of cool functionalities.

Called the “Anti-theft Logic,” it essentially stops anyone from turning the car on after it was locked. The system needs around 30 seconds to kick in, but once it does, nobody will be able to destroy the key barrel, stick a USB or a screwdriver in it, and just drive off.

As the video down below shows, once the time limit is crossed, the car will not recognize another signal other than the one coming from the owner’s remote.

The Hyundai owner also proves that forcibly opening the locked car’s door after the update will result in another failed attempt at starting the vehicle because now it sports a great passive immobilizer. Just use the remote, and you’ll most likely be fine.

Thieves will have to find more complicated ways to steal Kia and Hyundais now. The software update works. But until everyone finds out about it, maybe you should park your vehicle in a safer area or inside a garage. Don't forget to show off the sticker!

Finally, don’t forget these upgrades happen in waves. If your vehicle is affected by the TikTok challenge but is not yet eligible for the free software update, all you can do is wait.

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About the author: Florin Amariei
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Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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