KIA rolls out new theft deterrent device for vulnerable vehicles


Is your model eligible? Here’s how to find out.

Nearly a year and after Kia America released theft deterrent software for the millions of Hyundai Elantras, Sonatas, and Venues that lacked an immobilizer and were vulnerable to theft, the automaker has unveiled an additional security measure to support owners of the vehicles that are not eligible for that software.

The company has engineered an ignition cylinder protector – a new hardware modification – designed to combat theft by reinforcing the ignition cylinder body and preventing its removal through the method of theft promoted in TikTok videos.

The makes and models that are eligible for the free modification are:

  • 2011 – 2016 Sportage

  • 2011 – 2016 Forte

  • 2010 – 2022 Soul

  • 2011 – 2021 Rio

  • 2014 Sedona

Forewarned is forearmed

Each vehicle will be adorned with window decals after the installation to alert would-be thieves that it is equipped with enhanced theft protection and that they’re essentially wasting their time trying to steal the vehicle.

According to Kia's statement to ConsumerAffairs, it will continue to provide free steering wheel locks to owners of vehicles not eligible for the software upgrade, and it is collaborating with local law enforcement agencies and public officials to distribute the locks. 

It also said that it is planning a number of temporary software upgrade clinics to assist local dealers with installation in key cities in early 2024.

“Vehicle security is a top priority for Kia and we continue to take action to support our customers by helping to protect their vehicles from thefts, which have been encouraged by content spread across social media,” said Greg Silvestri, vice president, of Service Operations, Kia America.

“Reinforcing the ignition cylinder body is the latest step to help guard against these methods of theft and we strongly encourage owners of vehicles that don’t have engine immobilizers and are not able to receive our security software upgrade to have this free security measure installed.”

Is your model covered?

If you’re unsure whether your Kia or Hyundai model is eligible for the protection installation or software upgrade, you can find out by submitting your VIN at

You’ll either receive a response telling you what steps to take or, in cases like the Kia Soul 2023, you might get a response saying, “Our records indicate that your vehicle is equipped with an electronic engine immobilizer and is NOT equipped with a steel key and "turn-to-start" ignition system so it is not one of the vehicles targeted for theft by the social media challenge. Information about the function of the electronic engine immobilizer is included in your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual.”

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