Kia's Solution to TikTok-Inspired Thefts Is a Software Update and a Nifty Window Sticker

Kia Vehicle Stolen with a USB Cable 8 photos
Photo: PGC Police/megamanxzero on Reddit
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Some Kia owners affected by the “Kia Boyz” TikTok challenge are receiving letters in the mail from the South Korean automaker. There is another solution on the way. This one is free as well. Here’s what’s going on.
Kia’s letting some of its customers know that they can benefit from a software update if their vehicle is affected by the TikTok trend which led to some serious consequences for the brand’s buyers. Besides that, once the car has been successfully upgraded to the latest build, the customers will also receive a sticker that’s supposed to deter potential wrongdoers from attempting to steal the vehicle with the famous USB trick.

According to the document, Kia is allowing affected customers to do this update for free until August 2024. The entire process is estimated to take one or two hours. In some cases, it might be necessary to take a day off because the time limit can extend.

Last summer, we were telling you about a dangerous trend that started on one social network. Teenagers saw two people firing up the engine of a Kia with a “turn-to-start” ignition system by simply using a USB charger cable instead of a key or some other complicated or expensive device. At first, people thought it had to be an iPhone cable, but others quickly realized that it worked with almost anything. Besides that, Hyundai vehicles with the same ignition system were also vulnerable.

Because the automakers didn’t act quickly enough, things spiraled out of control. At first, a security kit was offered but only after customers started a class-action lawsuit about this issue in 14 states. Then, steering wheel locks were offered to the Police patrolling the areas prone to these kinds of nefarious actions. But online reports from customers said such devices are nowhere to be found. Those officers contacted by the unlucky owners said they don't know anything about free stuff coming from any automaker.

More recently, even public authorities turned against South Korean brands. Seattle, for example, argues that the Police are spending too many resources on trying to find what happened with stolen or broken-into vehicles. They want the brands to pay up because they left these cheaper cars without immobilizers and now customers and law enforcement must deal with the companies’ desire to save a couple of bucks per vehicle.

Finally, insurers are declaring many Kias and Hyundais “ineligible” for renewing their policies. State Farm, for example, said 105 vehicles manufactured between 2015 and 2021 can’t be insured any longer. Their data says that includes approximately 74% of all the automakers' cars in the U.S.

If you’re among those targeted by the “Kia Boyz” TikTok challenge, make sure your vehicle is secured and contact Hyundai or Kia regarding this matter.
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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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