A security flaw in certain Dodge, Hyundai, and Kia models made them easy for criminals to steal. And word got out on social media: A prominent Tik Tok user discovered the security deficiency… and published it all over the Web.
So now the word is out: These manufacturers were trying to keep costs down, and so skipped installing an immobilizer on these vehicles. And without the immobilizer, the Tik Tok star found out that it was a simple matter to start the car up with a USB cable or screwdriver and just… just drive it away!
Kia and Hyundai focus much of their business on budget-friendly cars. So they’re naturally looking for ways to cut costs during the manufacturing process to save money for themselves and for their customers.
In this case, they got a little too cheap, and left a flaw that turned out to be easy for criminals to exploit:
The lower-end models for these cars — the ones with a standard key ignition rather than a push button – have an easily-accessible ignition column that thieves can easily remove in seconds. Once it’s removed, there’s an exposed rectangular pin that just happens to be sized just perfectly to fit into the opening in a regular USB cable. Just slip the USB cable opening over the exposed pin, give it a little twist just like you’re turning a regular key, and VROOM! You’re off to the races.
As a result, theft rates for these vehicles have skyrocketed nationwide, as thieves are always on the lookout for an easy take.
At least one prominent insurance company has found out, and has stopped issuing new comprehensive or collision coverage on any of these vehicles.
National General sent a notice this week to the independent sales offices that until further notice, they will only issue liability insurance on the following vehicle models:
- All Kia and Hyundai models from 2011 through 2021;
- Dodge Chargers, Challengers, and Durangos with model years 2017 or later.
It’s probable that other insurance carriers will follow.
National General says they will relax these restrictions when the risk profile of these vehicles changes.
Car owners are now joining a class action suit against the manufacturer, arguing negligence: The manufacturers knew, or reasonably should have known, that criminals could easily exploit the flaws.
The trend appears to have started in Milwaukee last year, when a group of thieves calling themselves the “Kia Boyz” discovered the vulnerability, and posted a video describing the hack on the Social Media site Tik Tok.
Of the 10,471 stolen vehicles in the country last year, more than two thirds of them were Kias and Hondas, according to reporting from HotCars.com.
Only the Kia and Hyundai models that have a traditional key and ignition combo are vulnerable to the hack. The hack does not apply to models with a push-button ignition. Essentially, the hack only applies to the lower-priced “base model” Kias and Hyundais. Newer Kia models have an immobilizer that defeats the hack.
For its part, Kia has said it’s working on getting a security kit out to drivers in the most heavily affected areas, where gangs of “Kia Boyz” are actively stealing cars. That’s in cities like Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Memphis.
What You Can Do
Don’t leave your USB cord visible in your car. To a thief who’s aware of the hack, it’s like leaving an extra key on your seat.
Don’t leave your car unlocked. They still have to defeat your door locks to get to your ignition column. Don’t make it easy.
Don’t leave valuables in your car – visible or not visible.
It’s a good idea to install a secondary alarm system. If that’s too pricey, you can install a Club or a steering column lock, which are effective deterrents against theft because they are easily visible from outside the car. Car thieves are more likely to keep. moving and find an easier target.
Add comprehensive coverage to your car insurance. If you only have liability insurance on your car, or liability + collision, it won’t cover you against theft or vandalism.
If your current car insurance carrier won’t sell you comprehensive coverage on these models, contact us. We represent many different car insurance carriers in almost every state. Chances are excellent we can get you the coverage you need at a price you can afford.
It takes just minutes to fill out the online form to get multiple free quotes from competing car insurance carriers. And if you prefer, you can call directly at (855) 438-7353 and ask to speak with an agent.
See you on the road!
Steve “Mr. Insurance” Ludwig
CEO, Select Insurance Group
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