Hyundai and Kia Settle Lawsuit Over TikTok Thefts

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

We’ve been hearing about the ease with which even the most amateur thief can steal older Hyundai and Kia models for a while now. Fixes for the lack of an electronic immobilizer are slow to come, but a group of owners took matters into their own hands with a class-action lawsuit. The issue was recently settled, netting a significant payment from the automakers.

Hagens Berman, one of the law firms handling the case, said that the settlement comes in at more than $200 million, relating to Kia and Hyundai’s “failure to equip 2011-2022 models with an immobilizer, a common anti-theft device in modern cars which prevents most vehicles from being started unless a code is transmitted from the vehicle’s smart key.” The plaintiffs said that the defect allowed thieves to steal the cars in less than 90 seconds and noted that the poorly designed steering column made the process even easier.

While $200 million sounds like – and is – a lot of money, individual owners won’t be getting rich. There are 9 million vehicle owners involved in the lawsuit, so each person will get a little more than $20, but that’s before attorneys’ fees and other costs are taken out of the total. The attorneys said that the settlement would help people who’ve suffered out-of-pocket expenses, but $20 is less than half a tank of fuel for some vehicles, but the good news is that money might not be the real benefit. The automakers agreed to fix the immobilizer issue and will make payments to those that are not eligible.

[Image: Kia]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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4 of 15 comments
  • EBFlex EBFlex on May 19, 2023

    Hyundai pays $200 million because our justice system won't hold people accountable. What a clown world we live in.

  • John John on May 19, 2023

    This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of.

    what about ALL of the OTHER cars being stolen? They're just as easy to steal or we wouldn't see so many of them getting taken as well.

    Just like everything else, the 'immobilizers' don't really work all tht well.

  • Analoggrotto Analoggrotto on May 21, 2023

    Hyundai and the Thieves should be in jail together.

  • EngineerfromBaja_1990 EngineerfromBaja_1990 on May 22, 2023

    That's what happens when a company goes cheap on something many people (myself included) take for granted nowadays.

    Come on, my 1st car was a 2000 MY and had a factory engine immobilizer. I found it the hard way when I wanted a duplicate and my local locksmith didn't have the upgraded key.

    And it was a base car with crank windows, cassette and wheel covers.