The Kia Hyundai TikTok challenge was a viral trend that involved stealing several models of Kia and Hyundai cars using a USB cord and posting videos of the thefts on social media. The challenge started in October 2022 and led to a surge in car thefts and fatalities across the United States.
Kia Hyundai TikTok challenge
The challenge targeted Kia and Hyundai vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2021 that used a mechanical key, not a key fob and push-button to start the car. These vehicles lacked immobilizers and electronic security devices that prevented the engine from being started unless installed. The thieves, mainly young teens, were ready to break into the car, pop off the steering wheel column, and hot wire the vehicle using a USB cable, similar to the wire used to charge a phone. It is in 20 to 30 seconds.
The thieves posted videos on the web of stealing and driving the cars, using the hashtag Kia Boys or Kia Boyz, which had more than 33 million views on TikTok. The social media company said it did not condone this behavior and removed the videos if found on its platform. Some of the thieves were not even old enough to legally drive.
The trend was first in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where the police department began offering free steering-wheel locks to owners of Kia and Hyundai vehicles in February 2021. A Traffic Safety Unit was formed in March to address the increase in reckless driving and car thefts. In June, a 16-year-old was five murdered, and five other teenagers were ill following a police pursuit.
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The Trend Spread
The trend spread to other cities, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, where the thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles increased dramatically. the trend was an 85% increase in thefts of Kia and Hyundai vehicles in 2022 compared to 2021 in Los Angeles, . In Chicago, thefts of the affected vehicle models increased by over nine times, and children as young as 11 years old were said to have participated in these thefts. In New York, six teenagers aged 14 to 19 stole a Kia Sportage in Buffalo and crashed into a tree, killing one of them and injuring the others.
The trend also resulted in several lawsuits against Kia and Hyundai, accusing them of negligence and failing to protect their customers from thefts. The automakers denied every liability and argued that the thieves were solely responsible for their actions. They also released new software updates that acted as immobilizers for the affected vehicles, which could be for free at authorized dealerships. The updates were available for four million Hyundai and Kia vehicles, including Elantras, Sonatas, and Venues.
Kia Hyundai TikTok challenge Impact
The Kia Hyundai TikTok challenge was a dangerous and irresponsible trend that caused harm to car owners, thieves, and the public. It exposed the vulnerability of some Kia and Hyundai vehicles that lacked immobilizers and could have been taken without permission using a USB cord. It also showed the influence of social media on the behavior of young people, who were motivated by the thrill and attention of stealing and driving cars.
Hyundai and Kia are rolling out software updates to stem a raft of auto thefts related to a TikTok challenge that authorities believe has led to at least 14 reported crashes and eight fatalities. The updates are free for millions of vehicles. And it is missing an essential anti-theft device. An issue that is taken advantage of on social media, this led to the rampant theft of cars. The software being emitted or released 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.
Youtuber, Auto enthusiast, and Content creator with 6+ years in the field of automobiles and bikes.