Dealer Develops Home-Brew Fix for TikTok-Inspired Hyundai and Kia Thieves

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

dealer develops home brew fix for tiktok inspired hyundai and kia thieves

Owners of older Hyundai and Kia models have had a rough go over the last few months. A TikTok video made them the targets of thefts and break-ins after it was discovered that the vehicles didn’t have electronic immobilizers. Some have sued, some are resorting to old-school measures like “The Club,” and others are looking to dealers for help. A dealer service director in St. Louis came up with an answer.

Elliot Silk from Suntrup Automotive Group said he had dozens of Hyundais and Kias in the service lot, waiting for repairs from damage caused by break-ins. He and a service tech took matters into their own hands with an in-house-developed Bluetooth immobilizer. After three months of work, Silk said his device prevents the engine from being started until the driver has pressed a button on a key fob. 

Silk thinks the device will stop everyday thieves from nabbing a car with one of his devices. He’s also confident the installation will prevent the removal of the device, as the vehicle would need some rewiring work done afterward. 

The immobilizer is available for $200 installed at Silk’s dealership, and he’s also offering it online for $99 plus shipping. Hyundai and Kia told Automotive News they haven’t studied the device but say they “continue to review and evaluate options. Both automakers state that their 2022 and newer models come with immobilizers, but that’s little consolation to the millions of owners without. There may be an official solution in the future, but this is a solid alternative for now.

[Image: Hyundai]

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12 of 18 comments
  • Oberkanone Oberkanone on Jan 09, 2023

    Adding an immobilizer is not complex or expensive. Why Kia/Hyundai stick their head in the sand and refuse to fix the problem their vehicles are associated with is perplexing. Free immobilizer retrofit and certificate $500 or $1000 only good for use on new vehicle is the solution I'd recommend.

  • Norman Stansfield Norman Stansfield on Jan 09, 2023

    People complain why new cars cost so much, then pile on Kia when they make affordable fuel efficient cars without nice to have features. The junker they were driving before hand probably didn't have an immobilizer either.

    The real culprit here is TicTok for making this a thing, punish them and whoever made the video.

    • See 3 previous
    • Johnds Johnds on Jan 26, 2023

      I had a 1995 Chevrolet that had one, and my 1998 Honda accord had one. Btw when people say Honda is #1 stolen, it’s because there are so many pre 1998 Accords still on the road and pre 2000 Civics. Unfortunately my 80 year old grandma has a 2020 Soul she bought with cash and it’s just a matter of time until we see it on the news involved in a drive by, burglary, or murder. What a terrible feeling. The thieves also rip the clubs off.

  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Jan 09, 2023

    What I’d like to know is how HyundKia didn’t have that sort of thing on their vehicles when most of the major automakers equipped their vehicles with immobilization devices back around 2000 or so! I don’t think there’s government edicts for that sort of thing, but c’mon, HyundKia, it’s BASIC stuff!

    • See 1 previous
    • Johnds Johnds on Jan 26, 2023

      I googled it, not sure if it’s true but there is a fmvss code from around 2005 requiring immobilizers in US vehicles.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Jan 10, 2023

    How about a direct link to the device? The AN story is behind a paywall. Two of my daughters drive Kias, 2012 and 2014 model Fortes. It would be nice to have something that works to slow these thieves down. A recent Crime of the Night segment on On Patrol Live covered a police chase of a newer Forte that had been stolen by four teenage boys - they ended up damaging the car pretty significantly, and when arrested they seemed pretty nonchalant about the whole thing, bragging that in the same night they'd stolen three other Kias and taken them for joyrides.