Ohio residents file lawsuit against Kia, Hyundai over vehicle thefts

CINCINNATI — Ohio residents have filed a class action lawsuit against car manufactures Kia and Hyundai, alleging that some of their vehicles are unsafe and easy to steal.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month in the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati, the manufacturers are accused of manufacturing, designing and selling defective vehicles “at multiple locations throughout the state of Ohio and the United States.”

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The lawsuit describes the defective vehicles as “all Kia models from 2011-2021, and all Hyundai models from 2011-2021,” claiming that when the “key is removed from the starting system, neither steering nor forward self-mobility is prevented.” Allegations against the companies detail that the vehicles were made without engine immobilizers, which are electronic security devices that make it more difficult to start and steal vehicles without a key.

“In selling the defective vehicles, defendants engaged in the deceptive and/or unconscionable acts or practices by misrepresented material facts, either expressively or by implication by concealing or otherwise failing to disclose, reveal, or provide notice to customers,” the lawsuit states.

Kia and Hyundai are accused of representing the defective vehicles as “high quality, properly designed, in conformance with applicable federal standards, and at a minimum, would work properly.”

The lawsuit comes as Dayton police issued a warning regarding a TikTok challenge that created an increase in Kia and Hyundai thefts. The challenge discloses the security flaw highlighted in the lawsuit.

Dayton police say if you drive a Hyundai or a Kia, the best thing to do is like any crime prevention, make yourself a tough target. That means making sure the keys are in your pocket, not in the vehicle, the vehicle is locked up and parked in a well-lighted area.

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In a statement to News Center 7, a Hyundai spokesperson said the company is “concerned about the recent rise in auto thefts of certain Hyundai model vehicles.”

“While all of our vehicles meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, unfortunately, our vehicles have been targeted in a coordinated effort on social media.  Criminals are targeting our vehicles without engine immobilizers. Immobilizers became standard on all vehicles produced after November 1, 2021. In order to assist customers with earlier model year vehicles without an immobilizer, Hyundai has been working with and will continue to support local police departments to make steering wheel locks available for affected Hyundai owners. Additionally, Hyundai has identified a Firstech / Compustar security kit that targets the method of entry thieves are using to access these vehicles,” the statement reads.

On Oct. 1, Hyundai will begin selling and installing security kits at Hyundai dealerships and Compustar authorized installers across the country.

News Center 7 has also reached out to Kia for comment on the lawsuit and allegation. We are waiting on a response.

We’ll update this story as we learn more.

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