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Kia software update to prevent thefts turns out to have glitch in some cars

Glitch reported with Kia software update intended to prevent thefts
Glitch reported with Kia software update intended to prevent thefts 02:58

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Kia recently rolled out a security software update to target the spike in thefts, but now a glitch has been reported.

CBS 2's Tara Molina brought us a first look at the update. On Tuesday, she brought concerns about the glitch straight to Kia.

Molina is told the glitch is only impacting certain cars – specifically cars with a remote start accessory. There is a compatibility issue with the new software update in those cars.

A Kia spokesperson says the company is working on the glitch right now.

Nonetheless, the software update was supposed to be a fix. It is being rolled out at Kia dealerships across in Illinois.

The software update requires the key to be in the ignition in order to turn the car on. It is meant for the millions of cars on the road missing an anti-theft device - no engine immobilizer – which has led to a spike in thefts specifically targeting Kias.

But it turns out the update doesn't work for everyone eligible for it. Brandon Baker found out the hard way.

"My options were to get the update and not have remote start, or have remote start and not get the update," Baker said.

But Baker didn't know those options until going to the dealership for the software update appointment for which he said he waited a month.

He said the service worker telling him, "If we do the software update to these cars, somebody uses their electric start, the alarm will start going off, and it won't shut off."

Baker said he had a loaner Kia stolen from in front of his house last year. The steering column was destroyed – much like has happened with other cars we've shown you for months.

He does not want the car he has now to be next.

So what's the deal? Molina reached Kia directly.

A spokesperson confirmed there is a compatibility issue with the software update and cars with remote start - causing "the activation of the burglar alarm when the remote start is used."

The spokesperson went on to say car owners with remote start will need to delay installing the upgrade while they work on addressing the issue and changing the software.

Molina shared that information with Baker.

"The fact they're going after this problem right away, that came up after they released this software patch, is good," he said. "They just have to finish following through with it. I love my car. They've been really good to stand behind the things they've done wrong."

Baker said he wished he knew about the glitch before heading in for an appointment - but says he's hopeful he, and others, will be able to get the safety update soon.

"I look forward to it in the coming weeks," he said. "I hope that the coming weeks don't turn into coming months."

Again, Kia is working on this now.

A Kia spokesperson said the tech team at the company expects to roll out an new version of the upgrade software that will address this issue in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the general manager at Gerald Kia of Naperville said everything has gone very smoothly since the update was issued – and the upgrades are taking only as much time as a traditional oil change. The GM said customers have been very satisfied to have the updates completed – and peace of mind delivered. 

Over 1.5 million people have now been contacted to make an appointment for the upgrade.

Regarding the few owners who have not yet been able to have the upgrade completed or who have had complications, Kia noted that the following text that is part of every customer letter:

"NOTE - VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH A KIA REMOTE START ACCESSORY. Kia has identified a compatibility issue with this software upgrade involving vehicles equipped with a remote start accessory which results in the activation of the burglar alarm when the remote start is used. Therefore, if your vehicle is equipped with a remote start accessory, we will need to delay installation of the software upgrade until we can investigate and address this compatibility issue. We apologize for the inconvenience."

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