When your check engine light comes on, you may feel overwhelmed and be prone to ignore it in hopes the light goes away. That same check engine light could come on for anything from a serious engine or transmission problem to a loose gas cap.
There is a common misconception that the trouble codes stored in your engine computer from the check engine light will specifically identify a problem. However, the code really points more to the symptoms of a problem. Think about taking your temperature and the thermometer reads 101. Your heat sensor, like the thermometer, tells you your temperature is out of normal range just as a thermometer not telling you why you have a fever. To determine the flu or a sinus infection, you need more information.
Your engine management system logs a problem and illuminates the check engine light for a given trouble code, which could be a number of causes. Your service technician can plug in a scanner, download the trouble code and begin diagnosing the problem. The trouble code is a starting point to begin diagnostics to determine the cause. Some problems may take longer to solve than others.
If your check engine light is flashing, that may refer to a problem that could lead to serious damage. You should get your vehicle to us as soon as possible. If the light is solid (not flashing), you may have some time to bring the vehicle in at your convenience.