Attorney General Phil Weiser joins states calling for recall of theft-prone Hyundai and Kia vehicles
April 21, 2023 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser today joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general calling for a federal recall of Hyundai and Kia vehicles following the companies’ continued failure to take adequate steps to address the alarming rate of theft of their vehicles.
The letter, sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, requests that the agency institute a recall of unsafe Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022 because of easily bypassed ignition switches and a lack of engine immobilizers that make them particularly vulnerable to theft. In March 2023, Weiser was part of a coalition of attorneys general asking the companies to take stronger steps to address the safety concerns of their vehicles. This letter calls on the federal government to step in because the vehicles’ systems remain out of compliance with federal standards, they pose an unreasonable risk to public safety, and the companies have continued to fail to address these safety issues.
“It’s clear that Kia and Hyundai aren’t doing enough to take responsibility for their failure to prevent these thefts in the first place,” said Weiser. “We need the federal government to step in and take action to help consumers, support law enforcement, and protect the public from this dangerous rise in Kia and Hyundai thefts.”
Between 2011 and 2022, the companies chose not to include anti-theft devices that were a standard feature in almost every other new car manufactured during that time period, including the same Hyundai and Kia models sold in Canada and Europe. Hyundai and Kia owners now face unnecessary risk of vehicle theft, as well as related concerns, like struggling to obtain insurance for the affected vehicles.
Thieves continue to target these vehicles at high rates, harming consumers and contributing to an erosion of public safety, with thefts frequently accompanied by reckless driving and further criminal activity. The thefts even go viral on social media, with thieves showing how to hotwire these vehicles and challenging others to steal them. Following these videos, thefts began surging across the country. In Colorado, thieves stole 10,319 Kias and Hyundais in 2022 alone.
The coalition explains that Kia and Hyundai need to go further in their attempts to remedy their vehicles’ vulnerability to theft. While the companies offered a software upgrade, this upgrade will not be available for many affected vehicles until June and, for some 2011-2022 models, it cannot be installed at all. Vehicle owners who cannot receive the software upgrade can reportedly receive a free steering wheel lock from Kia and Hyundai. This is insufficient protection, as it places additional burdens on owners and does not address the underlying ignition system flaw that makes the vehicles so vulnerable to theft. Consequently, many owners are reaching out to NHTSA for assistance with this theft issue.
In the letter, the states urge NHTSA to take immediate action by instituting a recall of the unsafe Hyundai and Kia vehicles because the companies’ response through a phased and voluntary service campaign has failed to protect drivers and the general public.
Weiser joins a coalition that includes the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia in filing the letter.