Skip to main content

AG Nessel Joins States Calling for Recall of Theft-Prone Hyundai and Kia Vehicles

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 17 states 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 (NHSTA), requests NHTSA institute a recall of unsafe Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022, whose easily bypassed ignition switches and lack of engine immobilizers make them particularly vulnerable to theft.

In March 2023, a coalition of attorneys general urged the companies to take stronger steps to address the safety concerns of their vehicles. This letter now calls on the federal government to step in, as the vehicles’ systems remain out of compliance with federal standards and pose an unreasonable risk to public safety, while the manufacturers have failed to address these safety issues.

“Kia and Hyundai owners deserve to feel confident that their vehicles are safe when they leave them locked,” Nessel said. “It is irresponsible for the manufacturers of these cars not to uphold federal standards related to anti-theft starting systems. The longer Kia and Hyundai take by delaying meaningful action to protect consumers and their property, the more harm these cars pose to owners as well as the general public. I stand with my colleagues in asking NHSTA to recall the Kia and Hyundai models with the flaws that make them so readily accessible to car thieves.”

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 the unnecessary risk of having their vehicles stolen, as well as related concerns, like struggling to obtain insurance for the affected vehicles.

These vehicles have been stolen at high rates since approximately 2021, harming consumers and contributing to an erosion of public safety. The thefts have frequently been accompanied by reckless driving and further criminal activity, causing injuries and deaths. The thefts have even gone viral, with videos on social media showing how to hotwire these vehicles and challenging others to steal them. Following these videos, thefts began surging across the country. In Detroit in 2022, there were nearly 1000 stolen Kias and just under 500 Hyundais. In Grand Rapids, there were 680 stolen or attempted stolen Kia and Hyundai cars from May 1 to November 10, 2022.

The thefts have taken scarce resources from local law enforcement and first responders, who have had to increase patrols and spend time responding to the thefts, distribute antitheft devices such as steering wheel locks, and alert the public to the dangerous trend. Hyundai and Kia vehicles stolen in this manner have resulted in numerous crashes and at least eight fatalities nationwide, and the stolen vehicles have also been used to commit additional, sometimes violent, crimes.

The coalition asserts that Kia and Hyundai have not gone far enough in their attempts to remedy their vehicles’ vulnerability to theft. While the companies have offered a software upgrade, this upgrade will not be available for many affected vehicles until June and for some 2011-2022 models 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, but this places additional burdens on owners and does not address the underlying ignition system flaw that makes the vehicles so vulnerable to theft. Many owners have contacted 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 vehicles violate federal standards requiring them to have a starting system that prevents the activation of the engine or motor and steering system when the key is removed;
  • The Hyundai and Kia vehicles’ vulnerability to hotwiring and theft has created an unreasonable and well-documented risk to safety on U.S. roads;
  • Surging thefts of unsafe Hyundai and Kia vehicles have consumed law enforcement and emergency responder resources; and
  • The companies’ response through a phased and voluntary service campaign is insufficient to protect drivers and the general public.

AG Nessel joins a coalition led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and includes the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington in filing the letter.


Media Contact: