Hyundai and Kia agreed to pay more than $200 million to owners of about 9 million vehicles that lack a crucial anti-theft device as part of a class-action lawsuit.

Hyundai and Kia have agreed to pay more than $200 million to owners of as many as 9 million vehicles on the road that lack engine immobilizers as part of a class-action lawsuit.

The automakers did not include the crucial anti-theft device, which prevents the engine from starting without a key present, on base trims levels of certain 2011-2021 model year Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Owners claimed that runs afoul of a vehicle safety rule that requires that a car must not be able to start without the key.

Last summer TikTok users posted how-to videos that exposed a method to easily hot wire the vehicles. The social media posts triggered a spike in a vehicle theft across the U.S.

Attorneys representing plaintiffs called the settlement “comprehensive, welcome relief.”

A large portion of the settlement, $145 million, will go toward out-of-pocket losses experienced by owners, including vehicles lost or stolen, vehicles that incurred damages, loss of personal property and insurance-related expenses, according to attorneys.

Steve Berman, managing partner at the Hagens Berman law firm in Seattle and lead attorney in the lawsuit, said in a statement that they “worked to achieve a settlement that covers many types of losses — from those who were lucky enough to have never had their theft-prone car stolen, to those whose stolen cars were totaled completely due to Hyundai and Kia’s negligence.”

A spokesperson for Kia confirmed the settlement and said in a statement the company is “pleased” to resolve the class-action litigation.

Hyundai also confirmed a settlement had been reached.

Hyundai and Kia also will continue to perform software updates on affected vehicles that will enhance the existing alarm system to prevent the car starting without the key.

Both companies said part of the settlement includes a $300 reimbursement for the purchase of an anti-theft device for owners of vehicles that cannot be upgraded.

NHTSA reported in February that the crime spree resulted in 14 crashes and eight deaths, including a 71-year-old man struck by teenagers driving a stolen Kia in Chicago.

Nine municipalities sued the automakers for failing to equip the vehicles with immobilizers, claiming the thefts have wreaked havoc in their cities. The most recent was San Diego, Calif., in March.

More than 65 insurers also filed suit against Hyundai and Kia, seeking reimbursement for damages paid to owners who filed claims related to the rampant theft. Attorneys estimated those costs will reach up to $300 million.

Last month California Attorney General Rob Bonta sent a letter to NHTSA, along with 18 other attorneys general, calling for a federal recall of the affected vehicles.

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