There you are, driving down the road minding your own business and BAM ! You notice the "CHECK ENGINE LIGHT" on your dashboard is glowing. What does it mean ? What should you do ?
First of all, if your car has gauges on the dashboard, take a quick glance at the oil pressure and the temperature gauges. If they are not in thier normal range then you should stop as soon as possible and turn the engine off. This will prevent any additional damage ( $$$$$ ) Even if the oil pressure and temperature are in the normal range, it is probably a good idea not to drive the car any longer than you absolutely have to to get to a safe place to stop. Then have the car towed to your repair shop to have the problem diagnosed and repaired.
The "Check engine light" usually indicates a fairly serious problem. This light is usually triggered by either a loss of oil pressure in the engine or an overheating condition. Either of these conditions will cause serious and expensive damage if the engine is allowed to continue running !!!!
There is usually another light on the dashboard, the "Service engine soon" light. This light indicates that there is a problem with the engine, transmission or something attached to them. This light is not as "serious" as the "Check engine" light but still should not be ignored. It is usually safe to continue driving the car with the "service engine soon" light on, but is it is best to get it to your repair shop as soon as possible to find the problem.
All cars differ somewhat in the use of these two lights. A good rule of thumb is that a Red light is usually the most serious and a Yellow or Orange light is not as bad but still requires attention.
A lot of newer cars may only have one light called a Malfunction Indicator Light ( MIL )
This is why your owners manual should be the final say in what the lights indicate on your particular vehicle.
If you have a question, call your repair shop and they should be able to guide you as far as what to do.