COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Local lawmakers have voiced concerns, frustrations, even policy changes, after a spike in car thefts over the last year. Particularly, thefts of certain Hyundais and Kias.
“Specific 2010-2022 models. These are Hyundai and Kia models that use a key to start the car, not a push button,” said Editor-in-Chief of CARFAX, Patrick Olsen.
Olsen said these models lack immobilizers, which are devices that prevent an engine from starting if there is no physical key in the ignition.
“Unfortunately, viral videos have come out that show people how to defeat that system,” Olsen said.
The results of that system override have been seen quite a bit over the last year. The good news is, Olsen said, automakers have come up with a solution in the form of a software upgrade for the nearly eight million cars affected. The bad news is, almost five million of those cars have yet to get the fix, including thousands in the Buckeye State.
“In central Ohio and throughout Ohio, there’s more than 215,000 cars that need this work done,” said Olsen. “Owners very often get notifications and they either ignore it, or they don’t notice it. Sometimes they think it’s an extended warranty scam. But we really need to get people to respond.”
So, if an individual owns a Hyundai or Kia, Olsen said the first thing they should do is call up their local dealership.
“It does not need to be the dealership you bought it at,” Olsen said. “And give them your vehicle identification number. And they can tell you instantly whether your car is in need of this work.”
Work that is free of charge, necessary, and potentially lifesaving.
“Even just watching the results of some of these car thefts,” Olsen said. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out that at least eight fatalities are associated with it. So, there can be tragic consequences, and honestly, I’m hoping that that knowledge motivates owners to go out and get this work done.”
Again, Olsen said the fix is free and only takes about an hour. Until a car gets the upgrade, owners can always get a steering wheel lock to prevent theft.