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Eligible Kia and Hyundai owners need to get this free upgrade immediately

Kia and Hyundai vehicles make up five of the 10 most stolen vehicles in San Antonio. This free software upgrade should help.

SAN ANTONIO — A rental car company gave Quinton Hoover a Kia optima after his vehicle was stuck in a collision. Two weeks later it disappeared from in front of his apartment. After making sure it hadn't been towed, he called the police. Hoover had not expected the conversation that followed. 

"He said it's 'just really hot' with the Kias and Hyundais right now'. His words to me were 'I don't know when it's going to stop. With the Hyundais they are able to start these things with a USB. That kind of blew my mind," Hoover said. 

SAPD data for the month of January show Kia and Hyundai models account for five of the 10 most stolen vehicles in San Antonio according to their Top Ten list of stolen vehicles in SA for the month of Jan. 2023:

Credit: SAPD

The United States Department of Transportation says the main issue with these vehicles is a lack of a vehicle immobilizer feature. 

As a result of the rise in thefts, Insurance Council of Texas Director of Communications Rich Johnson said some insurance providers including State Farm and Progressive have stopped writing insurance policies for new customers of the commonly affected vehicles. 

"It is kind of unusual. Normally what happens if you have a high risk vehicle usually the rates are just going to chance. I think the industry has looked at these vehicles and the risk was just too high to continue to write policies on these vehicles," Johnson said.  

Johnson said this would not apply to the newest models, which no longer had the issue, and people with existing insurance policies should be able to keep those polices. Their rates could increase, however. 

At the same time, The U.S. Department of Transportation states that Hyundai and Kia have developed theft deterrent software for the millions of vehicles affected and will provide that software upgrade free of change. 

The department states "the software updates the theft alarm software logic to extend the length of the alarm sound from 30 seconds to one minute and requires the key to be in the ignition switch to turn the vehicle on."

They further stated on their website: "NHTSA urges owners of these vehicles to contact Hyundai (toll-free at 800-633-5151) or Kia (toll-free at 800-333-4542) for information on the FREE update."

The department said both Hyundai and Kia will roll out software updates in a "phased approach."

The Hyundai schedule can be found here but Kia did not appear to have a similar web page. 

The San Antonio Police Department encourages vehicle owners to use a wheel lock to protect their vehicles, especially if they have a Kia or Hyundai without an immobilizer feature. 

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