A year after the “Kia challenge”—the “challenge” is to steal a Kia—emerged on TikTok, software fixes haven’t stopped thieves from continuing to make off with stolen cars.
In Canada, Kia owners are better off—kind of.
Catch-up: The surge in thefts started after videos were posted online detailing how to exploit the cars’ lack of auto-theft prevention technology. Called immobilizers, they block you from being able to start a car without a key, a basic feature you’d think all cars would have.
- Only 26% of Kia and Hyundai models from 2015 to 2019 were equipped with the technology in the US, compared with 96% of all other vehicles in those years.
Currently, in the US, only 7% of the roughly 8 million vulnerable cars have received a software upgrade that adds protection—the automakers’ have held back from issuing a costly recall—meaning cars are still getting snatched, per The Wall Street Journal.
Why not Canada: Immobilizers have been required by law in all new vehicles sold in Canada since 2007—Transport Canada can give itself a little pat on the back for that one.
Yes, but: Car thefts in Canada are soaring as criminals find creative ways to out-smart immobilizers—such as transmitting the key signal from inside your house to trick your vehicle. In Ontario, over 10,000 cars have been stolen since January, up 45% from 2022
What’s next: Carmakers are expected to roll out new security features (eventually), and Transport Canada isn’t making any sudden moves. At this rate, the issue might be best left to Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who’s exploring giving out signal-blocking key cases.—SB