Consumer Alert: Why didn’t Hyundai install anti-theft systems in the first place?
Hyundai owners, listen up. The manufacturer has sent a crew to Rochester to install anti-theft systems on your vehicle.
While this is a welcome fix, it comes too late for many.
Almost 3,000 cars have been stolen this year.
Folks who drive a Hyundai manufactured in 2011 through 2021 and need a key to start their vehicle are eligible for a software update. If you have a push-button start, you can get a steering wheel lock.
The repair crews will be out Saturday, Nov. 18, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot D across from Innovative Field. The repair is being made at no cost to you and should take less than 20 minutes.
But I wanted to know: Why didn’t Hyundai install anti-theft systems in the first place?
Several models of Kias and Hyundais are easy to steal because the manufacturers chose not to install anti-theft software that’s standard on nearly every other vehicle on the market. So now Hyundai is sending repair teams to cities that are, in their words, “high-crime areas like Rochester, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Chicago, to drop right into a neighborhood and offer a no-appointment-necessary 30-minute process.”
While Hyundai is proud of the convenience of the service being offered, you may have noticed he only named U.S. cities. That’s because Hyundai and Kia built vehicles that already had anti-theft systems to sell in countries that require them, like Canada. So why not in the U.S.? Was this a cost-saving decision?
“I’m not from the product planning division. so I don’t have a specific comment about that. but we can follow up with an answer for you,” Vandelinde said.
But for years, other manufacturers have made anti-theft systems standard in vehicles sold in the U.S. Why not Hyundai.
“Since November of 2021, all Hyundai vehicles, whether they have a blade type key or a push button start, now have an immobilizer solution,” Vandelinde said.
But the fix has come too late. For thousands of Hyundai and Kia owners across our region. Does the manufacturer have anything to say to them?
“We realize the theft creates a huge inconvenience for not only our customers but also our local communities and the police department,” Vandelinde said.
I asked Hyundai the following questions via email:
- Since 2007, Canadian law has mandated that anti-theft immobilizers be installed, so the cars Hyundai sold in Canada didn’t have this problem. Why did Hyundai subject Americans to this vulnerability? Was this a cost-saving decision?
- All Hyundai Vehicles are manufactured compliant with US federal anti-theft requirements. As recently as 2021, no Hyundai model was among the top ten most stolen vehicles at the national level, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Since November 2021, engine immobilizers have been standard on all of our vehicles, including all vehicles manufactured today.
- We began seeing videos known as the “Kia Challenge” spread on TikTok and other social media channels in 2021. These videos, which continue to be posted to this day, caused an unprecedented spike in vehicle thefts. As recently as 2021, no Hyundai model was among the top ten most stolen vehicles at the national level, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The videos promoted a specific method to bypass the security features on certain Hyundai vehicles that were not equipped with engine immobilizers.
- These were primarily entry-level or “base trim” models produced between 2011 and 2021 that, while fully compliant with federal anti-theft requirements, did not have engine immobilizers as standard equipment. Since November 2021, engine immobilizers have been standard on all our vehicles, including all vehicles manufactured today.
- Anti-theft immobilizers are standard in the industry, even if U.S. law doesn’t mandate it. Why did Hyundai deviate from industry norms?
- This technology was available for many Hyundai models, and generally became more available over time. For some earlier models, mostly those at the entry-level trim, this technology did not come standard, although it was available for certain of these models as part of an optional package. There is no quality issue or defect with these vehicles, and they all meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Hyundai has taken several steps to enhance the security of our vehicles sold without engine immobilizers.
- Chief among these measures is the development and validation of a software upgrade, at no cost to the owners of these vehicles, to prevent the theft mode popularized on social media. This upgrade is available for approximately 3,800,000 vehicles covering model years 2011-2022. Hyundai is also continuing our existing national program to provide steering wheel locks to law enforcement and the reception to this program has been exceptionally positive. Hyundai has also initiated a program to reimburse affected customers for their purchase of steering wheel locks.
- These steps reflect our commitment to prioritizing the safety of our customers. All Hyundai vehicles produced since November 2021 are equipped with an engine immobilizer as standard equipment. Hyundai is also providing free steering wheel locks to law enforcement agencies for distribution to local residents who own or lease affected models.
- Thousands of our viewers have experienced serious hardship because of this vulnerability to theft. Does Hyundai have anything to say to them?
- Our customers are our top priority and we are taking comprehensive action to assist them and their communities, including holding mobile clinics like this one to install the anti-theft software free of charge. We remain committed to ensuring the quality and integrity of our products, all of which are fully compliant with federal anti-theft requirements. Engine immobilizers are now standard on all Hyundai vehicles produced as of November 2021.