Hyundai, Kia Issue Fix for Vehicles Falling Prey to Social Media Challenge

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that Hyundai and Kia will roll out “theft deterrent software” for vehicles falling victim to a TikTok social media challenge resulting in numerous broken windows and thefts. While the fix is set to extend the length of the alarm and require a key in the ignition for the vehicle to operate, NHTSA mentions no solution with respect to allegations that security systems on some vehicles may not be connected to the windows.

The trend has landed both vehicle manufacturers in court, with plaintiffs alleging 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. Originally filed in Iowa, the class action case has since been centralized in California.

“The software updates the theft alarm software logic to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on,” NHTSA says. “The effort is in response to a TikTok social media challenge that has spread nationwide and has resulted in at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities.”

The vehicle thefts even led some major insurance providers, including Progressive and State Farm, to cease writing policies for certain Hyundai and Kia models in certain locations.

According to NHTSA, both Hyundai and Kia will provide the update for free. Kia will roll out its update in a “phased approach,” starting at the end of February 2023 and continuing into the following months. Additionally, Hyundai says it will provide motorists with window stickers that note the vehicle is equipped with anti-theft protection. Those stickers will go out to vehicle owners toward the end of February 2023 and additional updates will continue in the subsequent months.

However, NHTSA’s report makes no specific mention of a solution to the allegation that windows may not be connected to security systems on some of the vehicles. Plaintiffs say that allows thieves to break windows without triggering the alarm.

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