MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis man says months after his Kia was stolen and recovered, he is still waiting for his vehicle to be repaired.
Brandon Schwenk said the 2017 Kia he had purchased has been sitting on a dealership lot since November because Kia doesn’t have the parts needed to fix his broken steering wheel column. He said other Kia owners are in the same boat.
“I’ve paid almost $3,000 on the car, but I almost don’t even know what it looks like because I haven’t seen it in so long,” said Schwenk. “Apparently, they don’t have the blueprints anymore on what they need to fix. We are at a standstill until whenever. I could have my car paid off before I get it back.”
Kia’s from 2021 and earlier have been targeted by thieves in Memphis and across the country because of a missing steering wheel component that makes it easy for them to hotwire and steal.
Schwenk said in September, his car was taken from his apartment complex in the middle of the night. When police found it a couple of days later, it had been trashed.
“There were a bunch of scratches all over it,” said Schwenk. “The stirring wheel column was dismantled so they could get to the ignition, food wrappers, and half-empty bottles of sodas and water and cigarette butts all in my console.”
Schwenk said his insurance company cut him a check for the damages, but he said the check was about to expire.
“I thought once they found the car, it would be good to go,” Schwenk said. “Technically, it is unfixable because they don’t have the parts to fix it.”
Schwenk said he is now trying to get his insurance company to total his car because he needs a vehicle to get around.
“My girlfriend basically had to quit her job so she could drive me to and from work,” said Schwenk. “I can’t live like this.”
Back in the fall, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Kia America and Hyundai Motor America. The lawsuit claims the decision by both companies to rely on older technology led to an increase in thefts and a subsequent loss of value on the resale market.