Hyundai and Kia announced that they have reached a $200 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought by owners over thefts of certain vehicles.
Officials have said a number of Hyundai and Kia models are particularly prone to thefts, which was exacerbated by a 2021 social media challenge teaching people how to steal the cars. Nearly 9 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles were not installed with an immobilizer, a security device that prevents the car from being started without the correct key present (preventing theft by hotwiring). The models involve some 2008-2022 Hyundai vehicles and 2011-2022 Kia vehicles.
The settlement requires Kia and Hyundai to install anti-theft software updates. For owners whose vehicles cannot accommodate a software update, the companies will provide up to $300 for the purchase of various anti-theft devices.
Customers who incurred theft-related vehicle losses or damage not covered by insurance will be provided cash compensation. Kia and Hyundai will also reimburse for insurance deductibles, increased insurance premiums and other theft-related losses as part of the settlement.
The settlement will still need court approval.
“We appreciate the opportunity to provide additional support for our owners who have been impacted by increasing and persistent criminal activity targeting our vehicles,” said Jason Erb, chief legal officer, Hyundai Motor North America. “Customer security remains a top priority, and we’re committed to continuing software upgrade installations and steering wheel lock distribution to help prevent thefts and offering insurance options through AAA for those who have had difficulty securing and sustaining coverage.”
SEE MORE: 17 states demand feds recall Kia, Hyundai vehicles over thefts
The companies said their free anti-theft software upgrade “modifies certain vehicle control modules on Hyundai and Kia vehicles equipped with standard turn-key-to-start ignition systems to include an ignition kill feature so the vehicles cannot be started when subjected to the method of theft popularized on TikTok and other social media channels.” The companies added that all vehicles made since November 2021 have an engine immobilizer.
Last month, the attorneys generals of 17 states and the District of Columbia sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urging the agency to recall Kia and Hyundai vehicles prone to theft.
The attorneys general said that these thefts have led to an increase in dangerous driving incidents.
“Thieves have driven these vehicles recklessly, speeding and performing wild stunts and causing numerous crashes, at least eight deaths, and significant injuries. Many of the victims have been minors,” the AGs wrote.
Overall, the National Insurance Crime Bureau found car thefts rose 17% from 2019 to 2021. The group has encouraged social media platforms to remove videos showing how to steal such cars.
“Enabling criminals to share the tools and techniques of their trade through posting videos online adversely impacts all consumers,” Celeste Dodson, president of the International Association of Special Investigation Units, said in a press release. “When a vehicle is stolen, it is often not the end of the crime but the beginning.
SEE MORE: A free fix should finally end Hyundai and Kia thefts
How to receive payment from Hyundai and Kia
The law firm Hagens Berman filed the class-action lawsuit against Hyundai and Kia. It has a form on its website for those who have owned or leased a Kia or Hyundai vehicle to fill out to receive updates.
The law firm said once the settlement is approved by the court, all class members will receive a notice. From there, affected owners can file a claim.
Owners and lessees of the following models may be eligible:
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