The federal agency that oversees car recalls has declined a push to force Hyundai and Kia to call back certain vehicles over theft risks that have reportedly turned fatal.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently told California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the top lawyers for other states that it will not issue the recall, NBC reports.
“At this time, NHTSA has not determined that this issue constitutes either a safety defect or noncompliance requiring a recall,” Cem Hatipoglu, NHTSA's acting associate director for enforcement, wrote in a letter to Bonta and others, according to NBC.
California and a group of more than a dozen states had urged the recall of Hyundai and Kia vehicles manufactured between 2011 and 2022, citing the cars’ lack of anti-theft features. The cars are so easy to steal that at least one major auto insurer has declined to insure them.
The cars are a uniquely rich target for thieves because they do not have push-button ignitions and immobilizing anti-theft devices.
A string of TikTok videos trending on the social media site are a sort of “how to” guide for thieves. Once inside the vehicles, all they need is a flathead screwdriver and a USB-A cable, the videos show.
Hyundai and Kia in May agreed to pay $200 million to settle a class action lawsuit over the rampant thefts of the vehicles. The deal reportedly covers about 9 million U.S. owners and includes up to $145 million for out-of-pocket losses for consumers who had cars stolen.
The thefts have led to at least 14 accidents and eight deaths, according to NBC.
NHTSA said in the letter that its recall standard “does not contemplate actions taken by criminal actors to break open or remove part of the steering column and take out the ignition lock to start a vehicle."
Car Defects Put Lives at Risk
Whether it is the lack of proper anti-theft tools or a wide range of other defects, faulty and malfunctioning vehicles pose a serious risk for everyone on the road.
Hyundai, Kia and other major car manufacturers recall millions of vehicles around the globe every year, often citing significant defects. These recalls typically do not come until long after the cars have been sold to unsuspecting buyers.
The good news is that you do not need to wait around for a recall to get a defective vehicle repaired.
The California lemon law forces automakers to perform a full range of repairs on cars while they are under warranty. It also requires the companies to buy back (or replace, in some cases) vehicles that they are unable to or simply decline to fix.
Talk with a California Lemon Law Attorney
If you have been stuck with a defective or malfunctioning vehicle, a California lemon law attorney at Bickel Sannipoli APC can help you fight back.