Most Kia and Hyundais are still vulnerable to car theft. Is yours protected?

In February, Kia and Hyundai promised new anti-theft software upgrades would help hit the brakes on a dramatic rise in car thefts across the country, fixing a security flaw that made certain models of the two car brands easy to steal.

Months later, nearly 80% of the roughly 8.3 million impacted Kias and Hyundais still lack the upgrades, the two companies confirmed.

And car thefts, especially in Rochester, New York, remain rampant. The nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice recently reported that Rochester's increase in stolen car reports was the worst in the nation over the first six months of 2023 when compared to 31 other mid-sized and large cities. That increase, about 355% according to CCJ, was more than twice that of the next highest city, Cincinnati, with an increase of 162%.

Check car recalls here: Toyota, Kia and Dodge among 105,000 vehicles recalled

Here's how to check if you are eligible for the available security upgrades and how to protect your car if you're not.

Steering column damage to a Kia  after it was stolen and later recovered.
Steering column damage to a Kia after it was stolen and later recovered.

Which Kia and Hyundais are covered by the anti-theft software upgrade?

The security flaw impacts key-started Kias and Hyundais manufactured between 2011 and 2022. Free upgrades are available through the manufacturers' car dealerships and take about an hour to install.

Eligible Kia models include:

  • 2011-2021 Forte

  • 2021-2022 K5

  • 2011-2020 Optima

  • 2011-2021 Sedona

  • 2021-2022 Seltos

  • 2011-2022 Sorento

  • 2020-2022 Soul

  • 2011-2022 Sportage

  • 2012-2021 Rio

Schedule an upgrade at ksupport.kiausa.com/ConsumerAffairs/SWLD or by calling 800-333-4542.

Eligible Hyundai models include:

  • 2018-2022 Accent

  • 2011-2022 Elantra

  • 2013-2020 Elantra GT

  • 2013-2014 Genesis Coupe

  • 2018-2022 Kona

  • 2020-2021 Palisade

  • 2013-2022 Santa Fe

  • 2013-2018 Santa Fe Sport

  • 2019 Santa Fe XL

  • 2011-2019 Sonata

  • 2011-2022 Tucson

  • 2012-2017 & 2019-2021 Veloster

  • 2020-2021 Venue

Schedule an upgrade at hyundaiantitheft.com or by calling 800-633-5151.

What if my car is not covered by the software upgrade?

Some other models cannot accommodate the new security software, yet remain vulnerable to theft, the two companies said.

As part of a proposed class action settlement, Kia and Hyundai will reimburse those owners for steering wheel locks and other anti-theft devices, like an alarm kit. Contact the companies to start a claim.

As a general safety tip, police have urged Kia and Hyundai owners to park in a secure garage or well-lit areas, if they can, and to make sure their cars are locked.

What if my car is stolen?

Stolen cars should be reported to the police department. In Rochester, when they are recovered, most end up in impound lot. The city has agreed to waive the first five days of storage fees for victims of car theft; towing fees are not covered. You can confirm with your local police department what their policy is.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said victims of car theft in her state may also qualify for compensation through the state Office of Victim Services. Find more information at https://ovs.ny.gov/victim-compensation. Check with your state to find out whether you are eligible.

Kayla Canne reports on community justice and safety efforts for the Democrat and Chronicle. Get in touch at kcanne@gannett.com or on X @kaylacanne.

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: How to protect your Kia or Hyundai from car theft