What does this mean?
It means you may have a problem. If you have an AutoZone store near you they will read the codes stored in your car’s computer. It could mean a little problem, or a big problem, but something is amiss.
This is called the Check Engine light. It means there’s a problem with the emission controls of the engine. The computer needs to be scanned for emission codes to determine as to why the light is on. Some auto stores like AutoZone will connect a code reader to the computer for free and get the codes. Once that’s done, then it can be determined what action should be taken to correct the problem.
You might want to (should) consult the owner’s manual, but basically it means your car’s engine control computer has detected something operating outside its normal, or correct, range.
The light is an early warning system. It warns you of a developing problem before it becomes a bigger, more expensive-to-repair problem. The light doesn’t mean disaster is lurking around the corner, it’s just a warning that something is wrong, and needs to be attended to. Isn’t that nice?
Sometimes the light goes off by itself after a few days. If it doesn’t, I suggest you have your mechanic check the car. He or she can hook up a scanner and read whatever trouble codes may be stored in the computer. These codes will give your mechanic a starting point from which he or she can (hopefully) diagnose the problem and take the necessary corrective action.
A few days means a few days. If the light stays on, and you ignore it, you’re asking for trouble.
That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P1234) not just their translation into English and post it back here.
If it starts flashing, STOP the car and turn the engine off as soon as it is safe. That means pull over to the side of the road, not driving 5 miles to the next exit.