The check engine light will appear on your dash as a graphic of an engine or the words check engine. There can be two types of display for the check engine light, a yellow light means you should have your car looked at soon, where a red light means your car should be looked at immediately. What ever the situation may be you should know where your check engine light symbol is and look at it once in a while to make sure it has not come on. The check engine light is used to alert you of a problem with your vehicles emissions system.
If your check engine light is flashing this is a sign it is more serious than a solid light and will need to be checked right away by a qualified mechanic. Usually when the light flashes it is warning you that there is a misfiring problem in your engine which will lead to catalytic converter damage if the problem is not take care of.
If the check engine light is solid this indicates that there is a problem with your emission control system. Your emissions system contains several sensors that reduce the amount of pollutants released into the air from your vehicle. It can be as simple as a loose gas cap to an oxygen sensor. An easy test is to remove and put back on your gas cap to make sure it is tight. If after a few days the check engine light stays on you will need to have a mechanic run a diagnostic test on it. He will be able to see if there is a code that the computer has set off and what the problem is. The mechanic will be able to reset the check engine light to off and it should stay off if it was only a loose gas cap. Another way the check engine light can come on is if your spark plug wires become brittle and cause an electrical misfire. Inspect the wires and if they looked cracked you will need to replace them.
When your check engine light comes on it is always best to have it looked at right away to avoid costly repairs.