Skip to content

Blumenthal Urges the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to Issue Recall on Theft-Prone Kia & Hyundai Vehicles

[HARTFORD, CT] –U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urging consideration of a recall of Kia and Hyundai vehicles susceptible to theft. An estimated 8 million vehicles from model years 2011 to 2022 are impacted by the rising trend of thefts due to the companies’ failure to install theft immobilizers in their vehicles, which are standard anti-theft devices other manufacturers install.

The rise in Kia and Hyundai thefts stems from a TikTok trend that demonstrated how to steal certain models using only a screwdriver and USB cable. The company attempted to combat the problem through a software update in February 2023, but rollout of the software has been slow and the problem persists. Local police departments in Connecticut are distributing steering wheel locks to Kia and Hyundai owners to combat this issue.   

“Anti-theft locks are no substitute for action by the car company. They have to respond not just to the class action, but to the needs of consumers. The federal agency who is responsible here – NHTSA – should issue a recall,” Blumenthal said at a press conference at East Hartford Police Department today announcing the letter. 

Kia and Hyundai reached a $200 million settlement on Friday to resolve a class-action lawsuit prompted by the rise in thefts. The settlement provides resources for consumers who were impacted by vehicle theft, encourages vehicles to have anti-theft software upgrades installed, and provides consumers with $300 to purchase steering wheel locks for vehicles that are not eligible for the software upgrade. Action by NHTSA would further ensure that vehicles receive the software upgrades needed to prevent more thefts.  

In the letter, Blumenthal is calling for NHTSA to prompt Hyundai and Kia to more effectively alert owners of their vehicle’s security flaw and its remedy.

“NHTSA’s leadership is desperately needed as it is clear Hyundai and Kia’s efforts are not enough to remedy the issue,” Blumenthal said in the letter.

A copy of the letter can be found here and video from the press conference announcement can be found here.