May 19, 2023 – Hyundai, Kia Theft Class Actions Settled for $200M
Hyundai and Kia have reportedly agreed to a deal worth $200 million to settle a crop of class action lawsuits filed over the automakers’ failure to equip certain apparently easy-to-steal vehicles with an engine immobilizer.
The proposed deal, which awaits preliminary approval from the court, is set to provide eligible Hyundai and Kia drivers with up to $145 million in cash for out-of-pocket losses, theft-deterring software upgrades, and up to $300 in lieu of software upgrades for certain class members.
Read more about the proposed settlement over on the ClassAction.org blog here.
December 1, 2022 – Investigation Closed, Lawsuit Filed
Attorneys have heard from plenty of people experiencing issues with their Hyundai and Kia vehicles and have decided to close this investigation. At least one proposed class action has been filed and is moving forward. You can read up on that lawsuit here.
We will be sure to update this page with any significant developments in the litigation, but in the meantime, you can stay up to date on class action news via our newsletter and find our list of open investigations here. Also, check out this article for information on why you generally don’t have to do anything to join a class action suit.
At A Glance
This Alert Affects:
Anyone who purchased or leased a 2011-2021 Kia or Hyundai.
What’s Going On?
A lawsuit has been filed alleging that a defect in Kia and Hyundai vehicles makes them easy to operate without a key. The apparent security vulnerability has been highlighted in a recent social media trend, leading to an ongoing theft problem.
How Could a Lawsuit Help?
A class action lawsuit could help Kia and Hyundai drivers get back money they may have overpaid for unsafe vehicles and potentially force the automakers to fix the problem.
A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed alleging that a defect in certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles makes them easy to operate without a key and has led to a serious theft problem.
The rise in Kia and Hyundai thefts was reportedly fueled by a social media trend that instructed and challenged users to steal the vehicles using a USB charging cable.
The lawsuit aims to force Kia and Hyundai to fix the problem behind the thefts and compensate drivers who may have overpaid for their vehicles, but more people are needed to help strengthen the case against the automakers.
Why Does the Case Say Kia, Hyundai Vehicles Are Easy to Steal?
According to the lawsuit, the ignition in the affected Kia and Hyundai vehicles – i.e., models that use a physical key slot and not a push-button start system – has a USB interface, so a thief only needs to strip away part of the steering column and insert any USB cable into the exposed interface to start the car. Per the case, this can be done in “less than a minute” and requires only “a trivial amount” of effort.
Part of the problem, the lawsuit says, is that the Kia and Hyundai vehicles at issue don’t come with an anti-theft device called an immobilizer, which uses a chip to authenticate a key against the car’s electronic control unit. An immobilizer, which can be found in most modern cars, prevents the vehicle from being started if the key is not detected.
It’s also been reported that some of the windows in the affected vehicles may not be connected to the cars’ security system, meaning they can be broken without the alarm being triggered, per the case.
The lawsuit says these vulnerabilities have caused thieves to view Kia and Hyundai vehicles as “easy targets,” especially after a viral social media trend highlighted the apparent security defect.
TikTok, YouTube Trend Leads to Theft Problem
According to media reports, law enforcement has attributed a recent spike in Kia and Hyundai thefts to social media challenges posted on TikTok and YouTube that point out the cars’ apparent security glitch.
One viral TikTok video posted by a Milwaukee group who calls themselves the “Kia Boys” teaches viewers how to break into and steal a Kia or Hyundai using only a screwdriver and a USB charging cable.
Milwaukee was hit especially hard by the apparent theft problem and reported more than 10,000 vehicle thefts in 2021, up 132 percent from the previous year’s total. Roughly 66 percent of the thefts involved Kia or Hyundai models, and as many as half of the car theft suspects were 16 or younger.
Beyond Milwaukee, police departments across the country have reported “staggering” numbers of car thefts, with a disproportionate amount of them involving Kia and Hyundai vehicles.
Though the automakers have acknowledged that their vehicles were being targeted “in a coordinated effort on social media,” they have not issued a recall to fix the potential problem behind the thefts. The companies have reportedly distributed steering wheel locks to police departments and started selling a security kit for the affected cars at a cost of $170 plus an installation fee.
How Could a Class Action Lawsuit Help?
The attorneys believe that in light of the apparent security vulnerability, Kia and Hyundai vehicles are unsafe and worth less than consumers paid for them. A class action lawsuit could help drivers get back some of the money they spent on the cars and potentially force the automakers to fix the problem at no cost to owners and lessees.