The Struggle Never Ends: Kia Still Can't Convince Customers To Patch Cars Against Kia Boys

Kia urges customers to patch their cars 10 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
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The viral Kia Boys theft method that put a target on almost every Kia and Hyundai car in the United States (not only the ones vulnerable to the hack, as thieves didn't care about the model year and broke the window of any vehicle wearing these badges) isn't coming to an end.
More shocking, customers whose cars are exposed to the infamous theft method don't seem very concerned about it, despite calls from Hyundai and Kia to install anti-theft updates.

The latest effort to convince owners to patch their cars took place in Broomfield, Colorado, with Kia setting up a software update clinic at the Flatiron Crossing Mall.

Customers can bring their cars to Kia's tent this weekend and have them patched. The process takes only 30 minutes, after which thieves are no longer capable of starting the car with just a USB cable.

The TikTok method went viral two years ago when it was discovered that certain Kia and Hyundai models lacked immobilizers, allowing anyone to start the engine by connecting a USB cable to a dedicated port under the steering wheel. Teenagers, who make up the biggest part of the TikTok audience, discovered the hack and immediately put it to the test for Internet fame.

Most Hyundai and Kia thieves these days are TikTok users who break the window of an unpatched vehicle, rip off the steering wheel column, and connect the USB cable to get the engine running. The teens drive away in the stolen cars, filming the entire adventure and posting it online for views. They most often end up wrecking the stolen vehicles, sometimes being chased by the police before trying to run away on foot.

Kia says it has already patched 1.1 million cars in the United States, but it's unclear how many are still left without the anti-theft software update. Customers are still recommended to install the security update as soon as possible, as it's the easiest and most affordable way to prevent TikTok teens from driving away in their cars.

However, some Kia and Hyundai owners discovered that patching their vehicles doesn't prevent thieves from targeting them. Teenagers searching for Internet fame sometimes don't care if a car is patched, breaking the window and trying to start the engine. Some Kia owners said the Kia Boys broke into their cars despite having a steering wheel in place, abandoning their USB cables as they were trying to escape unnoticed.

The two carmakers urge everybody to install the anti-theft update, with more information about the next software clinics available on their websites. Meanwhile, the most convenient way to prevent a Kia Boy from stealing your car is to install a steering wheel lock.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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