If you think you are doing more smash-and-grab fixes lately, especially on certain vehicle makes, it could be for good reason. A recent class action lawsuit brought against Kia and Hyundai alleges that certain vehicles were manufactured without engine immobilizers and are therefore easier to steal.
Aside from reports that state the obvious – smashed windows are being used to gain entry to the vehicles – there’s allegedly more to the glass side of the story. Plaintiffs Ann Brady and Leah Price brought the class action complaint against Kia America Inc., Hyundai Motor America and Hyundai Kia America in August. The plaintiffs allege in court documents filed in U.S. District Court, the Southern District of Iowa, that all Kia and Hyundai models from 2011-2021 contain a “defect.”
Plaintiffs allege in court documents that the vehicles do not conform with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 114, which requires that vehicles have starting systems that prevent certain actions when the key is removed. Those actions include the activation of the engine and steering. That makes the vehicles worth less than they should be, plaintiffs argue.
“The defective vehicles do not comply with this FMVSS in that when the key is removed from the starting system, neither steering nor forward self-mobility is prevented,” plaintiffs allege in court documents. “If it were, the vehicles would not be stolen at alarming rates.”
Recently-reported thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles are well documented, as made infamous by a TikTok trend with the hashtag “Kia Boys.” For example, according to Virginia’s 10 On Your Side, 38% of Norfolk’s reported car thefts in August dealt with Kia and Hyundai vehicles. In September, that figure rose to 43% and so far in October, the figure stands at 69%.
10WBNS in Columbus, Ohio, reportedly spoke with a woman who had her Kia stolen. Months later, after receiving another Kia to drive while her original was in the shop, she says she arrived to find the windows smashed out. St. Louis has even considered taking legal action against the manufacturers based on a reported increase in vehicle thefts.
Fox News Digital recently received a statement from Hyundai Motor America spokesperson Ira Gabriel. Gabriel says the vehicles are not defective and comply with “all applicable safety regulations.”
“Notwithstanding this, we have been working cooperatively with the St. Louis Police Department and the police departments in other communities to provide our assistance in responding to these thefts,” Gabriel says. “We have provided the St. Louis Police Department and police departments elsewhere with steering wheel locks so that they can distribute them to our customers affected by these criminal acts.”
Along with reports of smashed windows, there is another alleged connection to auto glass. According to court documents filed by the plaintiffs, “on information and belief,” some of the vehicles in question do not have their windows connected to the security system. Therefore, plaintiffs say, thieves can break the window without triggering the alarm.
“Defendants knew their vehicles were defective in this manner but failed and refused to disclose these defects to customers, despite having the capability and means to do so,” plaintiffs continue.
Plaintiffs bring the class action on claims of unjust enrichment, negligence, design defect and breach of express or implied warranty.