Kia, Hyundai reach settlement over car thefts triggered by TikTok challenge

A settlement was reached in federal court of litigation brought by Hyundai and Kia car owners over a security weakness in the vehicles that was promoted on social media platforms, the automakers announced Thursday.

Thefts of the cars were driven last summer following a TikTok challenge that outlined a way to bypass security features to make it easier to steal the vehicles.

The agreement could be valued about $200 million, but it depends on how many car owners participate in the settlement, which will offer cash for some customers who have theft-related claims. U.S. District Judge James Selna will consider preliminary approval of the settlement in July.

Part of the settlement will include software upgrades on vehicles as well as offers of wheel locks for other vehicles incompatible with the computer update.

The settlement covers about 9 million Hyundai and Kia vehicles.


"We appreciate the opportunity to provide additional support for our owners who have been impacted by increasing and persistent criminal activity targeting our vehicles," Jason Erb, chief legal officer of Hyundai Motor North America, said in a statement. "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."

John Yoon, chief legal officer for Kia, said the company is "very pleased" by the settlement.

"This agreement is the latest step in a series of important actions, in addition to providing a free security software upgrade and distributing over 65,000 steering wheel locks, that Kia has taken to help customers whose vehicles have been targeted by criminals using methods of theft popularized on social media," Yoon said. "Kia remains committed to assisting our customers and upholding vehicle security."

When a car owner brings in a vehicle for servicing the software upgrade will be automatically installed. For those with vehicles unable to take the upgrade, owners will receive up to $300 to buy an anti-theft device like a steering-wheel lock.

The cars covered are:

-- 2011-2022 Accent;

-- 2011-2022 Elantra;

-- 2013-2017 Elantra GT;

-- 2013-2014 Elantra Coupe;

-- 2011-2012 Elantra Touring;

-- 2011-2014 Genesis Coupe;

-- 2018-2022 Kona;

-- 2020-2021 Palisade;

-- 2011-2012, 2019-2022 Santa Fe;

-- 2013-2018, 2019 Santa Fe; Santa Fe XL;

-- 2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport;

-- 2011-2019 Sonata;

-- 2011-2022 Tucson;

-- 2012-2017, 2019-2021 Veloster;

-- 2020-2021 Venue;

-- 2011-2012 Veracruz;

-- 2011-2021 Forte;

-- 2021-2022 K5;

-- 2011-2020 Optima;

-- 2011-2021 Rio;

-- 2011-2021 Sedona;

-- 2021-2022 Seltos;

-- 2010-2022 Soul;

-- 2011-2022 Sorento; and

-- 2011-2022 Sportage.