JDI Distributors Inc. Plans to Stop the Hyundai and Kia Theft Phenomenon With a Ghost Key (2023)

By now, even if you're not performing snappy dance steps set to awful music and posting your routines daily on TikTok, you've certainly caught wind of the Hyundai and Kia theft trend sweeping the nation and gaining viral momentum via the wildly popular social media platform. It's led some insurance companies to even reportedly stop servicing entire models or regions of the country due to the volume of claims.

Out of nowhere, specific Hyundai and Kia models, which were never equipped with immobilizers (pre-2022 models) and rely on an easily circumvented ignition switch, began getting picked off at will by the self-named "Kia boys," who often post evidence of their crimes on social media. A free fix was initiated by the automakers that requires the key to be in the ignition before starting the vehicle and an extension of the factory alarm system, but both are likely to be defeated by ever-evolving thieves.

That's where Jordan Distributors Inc. comes in. Having supplied automotive parts for years, the group came up with a user-friendly security system for popular Hondas that became an instant hit among the enthusiast crowd. That interest prompted the production of a slew of additional models on their resume that at first was based mostly on '90s-era chassis, but expanded into a long list of additional years and models.

It's called the Ghost Key Plug-and-Play Push Start Conversion Kit and it relies on RFID technology to allow only the chip holder the ability to start their vehicle. I installed their Ghost Key system on my 1992 Acura Integra in May of last year and it's performed flawlessly ever since.

Once installed, the kit's key fob is unique to each kit and there are no two alike. And, for convenience, JDI offers various key fob types, including compact keyring versions, a credit card-sized option, and even a small sticker about the size of a dime that can be placed on the back of your phone. No chip, no start - it's that simple.

The kit includes everything you need to not only inject RFID (radio frequency identification) security, but to convert your keyed ignition to a more modern push start system. This particular installation includes eliminating the factory ignition tumbler and its housing - both of which are providing thieves ease of access to start these vehicles. By taking them out of the equation, security is dramatically increased.

DIY Installation

The installation process isn't at all complex and is completed with basic hand tools. Very similar to the install I did on my Integra, the entire process can be done in under an hour and there's no complex wiring, soldering, or anything of the sort. If you're not the DIY-type, any capable repair shop, stereo/alarm outfit, or mobile locksmith should be able to tackle the install easily.

(Video) Ghost Key - Push to Start Conversion Kit - How it Works

Here are the tools used for this install (the sharp silver item is a pry tool to wedge into and remove plastic panels), but anything similar should work to complete the process.

To begin, the battery's negative terminal is disconnected.

On the driver's side of the dash, a fuse box access panel is easily removed.

That reveals a few screws securing the sides of the lower trim piece that need to be removed.

(Video) SAPD: Car thieves using technology to hack key fobs, steal vehicles

That lower plastic panel runs beneath the steering column and is further held in with a set of Phillips screws on its lower portion. Once removed, using a panel popper, gently pry the panel away from the dash. Note: The buttons on the panel have connectors behind them, be sure to disconnect from the backside to avoid any damage.

The steering column cover is next up for removal. There are screws behind and on either side of the steering wheel, and one directly below the column to remove.

With the three screws out, the clamshell can be separated and put aside.

These next few steps are for those that would like to eliminate their ignition tumbler completely, and mount the new push start button in its place. By doing this, you will lose the steering wheel lock feature. If you'd rather not give up the steering wheel lock, you can mount the push start button virtually anywhere in the vehicle, there's plenty of slack provided on the harness. With that option, you'll still need your key in the ignition in order to unlock the steering wheel.

Holding the ignition tumbler in place is a clamp with a pair of headless screws. A chisel or even a flathead screwdriver needs to be held at a slight angle and a hammer used to tap the end a few times. The idea is to hit the screw in a counterclockwise manner to free it. After just a few taps the screw is loose enough to completely remove with your fingers.

(Video) Installing The JDI Ghost Lock on the EK!

JDI's universal push button start fits into the factory ignition hole without any modification. Four bendable tabs act as retainers on the back side of the column to hold it firmly in place. JDI also offers upgraded push start buttons in different colors and styles, as well as a Hyundai/Kia sized adapter to allow the sleeker buttons to install in the ignition hole.

Under the dash, right at the top of the brake pedal assembly is a multi-wire plug that connects to the brake switch. A signal needs to be taken from the wire at the very end of the connector. Depending on the vehicle type and connector style, it will either be the very left, or the very right wire, shown in detail on JDI's YouTube tutorial.

There's no cutting or wire splicing involved, you simply take the quick connecter included in the kit, wrap it around the wire and, using a pair of pliers, squeeze until the connector clicks and it's secured. With the provided wire plugged into that connector, it assures the JDI system that your foot is on the brake when the car is started.

The included wiring harness uses and OEM-style connector that plugs directly into the plug leftover from the ignition tumbler you removed. There's no modification needed, it plugs in just like the OEM harness.

The other end of that harness goes to JDI's push-to-start module, which also accepts the harness from the push start button, the brake switch line, and the antenna. The module can be mounted virtually anywhere as long as it's secured and not in the way of any moving parts.

(Video) How to Install a Hidden Kill Switch in your Car or Truck (Cheap Anti Theft System)

An earthing wire with ring terminal is also included and will need to be secured to a solid ground location. The metal frame that supports the lower dash cover has a metal stud that's perfect for this.

Before buttoning up the panels, you'll need to choose a spot to mount your antenna. This circular device is what reads your RFID chip, and it has a very long wire that allows it to be mounted virtually anywhere you want. For my car, I chose an easily accessed area and mounted it behind a factory plastic panel using 3M tape. It hasn't budged in almost a year and reads perfectly every time. Keep in mind you'll need to swipe your fob or card every time you start the car, so somewhere convenient but out of sight makes the most sense.

Reinstall the factory trim pieces, reconnect the battery, and you're ready to go. The standard push start button looks and fits like an OEM piece. You'll swipe your key fob or card in front of the antenna and listen for an audible confirmation that it's been read, then hold the brake (and clutch if it's a manual) and tap the button to start the car. To turn it off, hold down the brake pedal and tap the button and it shuts down just like pulling out the key.

Keep your antenna hiding spot to yourself and the quick smash and grab Hyundai/Kia theft scenario is a thing of the past. In addition, if you chose to get rid of the ignition tumbler and mount the start button in the leftover space as shown above, JDI's kit acts as a visual theft deterrent to those unsavory onlookers peeking through the window. The days of wailing car alarm sirens and hoping for an OEM software patch that will hold up in real time are things of the past. Jordan Distributors Inc. offers a long term, user-friendly solution that you can tackle in your driveway in under an hour.

Photos Courtesy of Tristin Monborne of Top Night Media Co.


Did Kia and Hyundai fix the theft system? ›

Nearly three months ago, Hyundai and Kia unveiled software that was designed to thwart an epidemic of thefts of their vehicles, caused by a security flaw that was exposed on TikTok and other social media sites. So far, it hasn't solved the problem.

Is Kia going to fix the theft issue? ›

Hyundai and Kia have issued an update to help protect affected key-to-start vehicles from 2011 to 2022 model years. The update includes a software solution to help stop thieves from taking these cars.

Which Kia and Hyundai are easy to steal? ›

The vehicles in question, 2015-2019 Hyundai and Kia models, such as the Hyundai Santa Fe and Tucson and the Kia Forte and Sportage, when equipped with turn-key ignitions — as opposed to cars that only require a button to be pushed to start — are roughly twice as likely to be stolen as other vehicles of a similar age.

Why are Kia's and Hyundais getting stolen? ›

Why Are Thieves Targeting Hyundais and Kias? Many modern Hyundais and Kias lack a useful anti-theft device called an immobilizer, which prevents a vehicle from starting when someone attempts to use a key or key fob that doesn't match the car.

Which Hyundais are being targeted for theft? ›

Affected vehicles include 2017-2020 Hyundai Elantras, 2015-2019 Hyundai Sonatas, and 2020-2021 Hyundai Venues. Hyundai and Kia have partnered with local law enforcement to provide free steering wheel locks to consumers with affected vehicles.

How can I prevent my Kia and Hyundai from being stolen? ›

How to protect your Kia and Hyundai from being stolen
  1. Install a steering wheel locking device.
  2. Install quality video surveillance cameras and alarms.
  3. Install a GPS tracking device.
  4. Leave porch lights on.
  5. Call police regarding suspicious people.
  6. Lock all windows and doors.
  7. Never leave your car running.
Feb 15, 2023

How do I know if my Hyundai has an immobilizer? ›

If your Hyundai vehicle has a push-button start or was produced after November 2021, it has an engine immobilizer and will not be affected. If your vehicle has a standard “turn-key-to-start” ignition system, please click here to input your VIN and see if your vehicle is eligible for the software upgrade.

Do 2023 Hyundais have immobilizer? ›

Both Hyundai and Kia say all their 2022 and 2023 models use immobilizers. The rash of thefts has caused at least two major insurance companies to decline coverage on some Hyundai and Kia models.

Is there a class-action lawsuit against Kia? ›

The auto companies Hyundai and Kia have reached a proposed $200 million settlement to end a class-action lawsuit brought by car owners whose vehicles are easy to steal because they lack anti-theft software.

Which Hyundai models have immobilizer? ›

All Hyundai vehicles produced since November 2021 are equipped with an engine immobilizer as standard equipment. Hyundai is also providing free steering wheel locks to law enforcement agencies for distribution to local residents who own or lease affected models.

What is Kia doing about all the stolen vehicles? ›

Kia said it has taken other steps to cut down on thefts, including providing some 23,000 steering-wheel locks to over 120 U.S. law enforcement agencies for them to distribute free of charge and launching a website where drivers can use their VIN to check if a vehicle is eligible for the new software.

Where are Kias being stolen the most? ›

Spikes in car thefts of certain Hyundai and Kia models, a trend that began in the American midwest and was spread by how-to videos on social media, has reached America's biggest city.

What is the turn key theft on a Kia? ›

The issue lies in a logic flaw that allows the "turn-key-to-start" system to bypass the immobilizer that verifies the authenticity of the code in the key's transponder to the car's ECU. This allows thieves to forcibly activate the ignition cylinder using any USB cable to start the vehicle.

Does my Kia have an immobilizer? ›

Because of this, people can break in and bypass the ignition. According to Hyundai, all of the company's vehicles produced since November 2021 have an engine immobilizer. Kia and Hyundai said they will also continue to give impacted customers free steering wheel locks through law enforcement agencies.

What is the Kia and Hyundai theft challenge? ›

Thousands of steering wheel locks for Kia and Hyundai vehicles have been sent to police departments across the country amid a rise in thefts sparked by a TikTok trend. However, more than 200 of those wheel locks that were sent to Philadelphia are still in storage.

What Kia models can be stolen with USB? ›

According to news reports and at least one class-action lawsuit, the most-affected vehicles are Kias made between 2010 and 2021 and Hyundais produced between 2015 and 2021. Thieves typically break a back window to avoid alarms, expose the steering column, and fit a USB-A cable into a matching plug.

What is a Kia immobilizer? ›

With the immobilizer system, whenever you insert your ignition key into the ignition switch and turn it to ON, it checks and determines and verifies if the ignition key is valid or not. If the key is valid, the engine will start. If the key is invalid, the engine will not start.

How do I start my Kia with USB? ›

Remove the first piece where you would ordinarily insert a key and you are left with a cylinder that has a little piece of exposed metal. Jam the end of a USB cable onto that piece of metal and you're done. All that's left to do is turn the USB cable as if it was a key and the car will start straight up.

Which Kia and Hyundai models are being stolen? ›

Kia and Hyundai models at risk to be stolen amid rising Tiktok...
  • 2017-2020 Hyundai Elantras.
  • 2015-2019 Hyundai Sonatas.
  • 2020-2021 Hyundai Venues.
  • Multiple Kia models.
Mar 17, 2023

Will a steering wheel lock prevent theft? ›

A steering wheel lock is a device that hooks onto your steering wheel to make difficult or impossible to operate. Visible anti-theft measures like a steering wheel lock tell thieves that your car will be difficult to take without a lot of noise and effort. More often than not, they'll move on to an easier score.

How much does it cost to fix anti-theft system? ›

The average cost for an Antitheft System Control Module Replacement is between $424 and $452. Labor costs are estimated between $109 and $137 while parts are priced between $315 and $315.

Which Hyundai models lack immobilizer? ›

It instructs employees not to insure certain models, “unless the sales associate has verified the presence of a passive engine immobilizer.” The list is extensive and mentions the 2015-2021 Accent, Elantra, Kona, Santa Fe, Sonata, and Tucson.

What is a ghost immobiliser? ›

The Ghost Immobiliser uses buttons in your vehicle such as the steering wheel, centre console or door panels to make a unique pin code which needs to be entered before you can drive the car. The engine will not start until the pin code is entered correctly.

What triggers immobilizer? ›

If the pin code in the key fob meets the one in the immobilizer system, the vehicle will start. Otherwise, your automobile will not start. Most immobilizers will sound an alarm if the wrong code is used to turn the ignition.

How do I stop my Hyundai from theft? ›

Do not leave valuables in plain sight, or in your car at all – even for a brief time. Additional security measures, such as vehicle tracking system/ GPS, vehicle security systems, and a steering wheel/column lock also can be effective deterrents.

When did Hyundai start using immobilizer? ›

Hyundai and Kia were slow to add immobilizers

Unsurprisingly, the same study found Hyundai and Kia vehicles dating from 2015-2019 had theft rates 80% higher than the nationwide average for all other manufacturers from January to June 2021. It was only in November 2021 that the two automakers made immobilizers standard.

What year did Hyundai start using transponder keys? ›

FROM 1996 all Hyundai vehicles use transponder keys as pictured above (including remote fobs also). Transponder keys were employed because only when the vehicle receives a certain unique code from the transponder inside the key will it be allowed to start.

Is it worth joining a class action lawsuit? ›

In most cases, there's little downside to joining these lawsuits, which combine many legal claims — often thousands — into one claim against a single defendant, reducing fees for each claimant and potentially earning a much larger payout. And there have been many opportunities to do so.

How do I claim my Hyundai and Kia settlement? ›

For all questions about claims or potential claims filed after November 30, 2021, contact Kia America online at https://ksupport.kiausa.com/ConsumerAffairs/Request/NewRequestThetaClass or via phone at 1-888-952-4827.

What states are suing Kia? ›

Other cities suing Kia and Hyundai include Cleveland, Ohio; San Diego, California; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Columbus, Ohio; and Seattle.

What are Kia and Hyundai doing about thefts? ›

Hyundai and Kia have developed theft deterrent software for millions of their vehicles that lack an immobilizer and will provide it FREE of charge to vehicle owners.

Which Kia models are susceptible to theft? ›

The vehicles in question, 2015-2019 Hyundai and Kia models, such as the Hyundai Santa Fe and Tucson and the Kia Forte and Sportage, when equipped with turn-key ignitions — as opposed to cars that only require a button to be pushed to start — are roughly twice as likely to be stolen as other vehicles of a similar age.

What is the problem with Kia and Hyundai thefts? ›

Officials say more than eight million Hyundais and Kias from model years 2011 to 2022 can be hotwired with a USB cable and lack an engine immobilizer, a common anti-theft feature that prevents the engine from starting unless the vehicle's key is nearby. They increasingly have become targets for thieves.

Is there a class-action lawsuit against Hyundai? ›

The auto companies Hyundai and Kia have reached a proposed $200 million settlement to end a class-action lawsuit brought by car owners whose vehicles are easy to steal because they lack anti-theft software.

Can I sue Kia for being stolen? ›

You will likely need to provide proof that you own a 2011 to 2021 Hyundai and Kia vehicle. If your car was previously stolen, you could bolster your case by providing police reports, insurance claim info, and other information about your losses.

Does my Kia have an engine immobilizer? ›

Because of this, people can break in and bypass the ignition. According to Hyundai, all of the company's vehicles produced since November 2021 have an engine immobilizer. Kia and Hyundai said they will also continue to give impacted customers free steering wheel locks through law enforcement agencies.

How much does it cost to fix anti theft system? ›

The average cost for an Antitheft System Control Module Replacement is between $424 and $452. Labor costs are estimated between $109 and $137 while parts are priced between $315 and $315.

Does my car have an immobilizer? ›

You can rest assured that your car has a factory-fitted immobiliser if it was manufactured after October 1998. However, if your car was made before that date and you want to check if it has an immobiliser, the easiest way to check is to contact your car's manufacturer or consult your owner's manual.

What is Hyundai engine immobilizer? ›

The immobilizer or anti-theft system verifies that the key used to turn the engine on is the correct one. If the key is not the correct one, this system blocks different actions to prevent the car from starting. When this system is activated, a warning light will turn on on the dashboard or instrument panel.

Which Hyundai models are being recalled? ›

The affected vehicles are model years 2022-2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz, 2019-2023 Hyundai Santa Fe, 2021-2023 Santa Fe Hybrid, 2022-2023 Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid, and 2022-2023 Kia Carnival.


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