The Check Engine Light (which is actually the Malfunction Indicator Lamp or MIL) alerts you when an emissions-related problem occurs with the engine control system or emission controls on your vehicle. Depending on the nature of the problem, the Check Engine Light may come on and remain on continuously or flash. Some intermittent problems will make the Check Engine Light come on only while the fault is occurring (such as engine misfire). The Check Engine light usually remains on once a fault has been detected, and will remain on to remind you that a problem has occurred that needs to be investigated.
An illuminated Check Engine Light can be annoying because you don't know what's wrong, and whether or not the problem might be a serious one or just a minor fault. There is no way to know what the problem is until you plug a scan tool into the vehicle's diagnostic connector and read out the code(s) that turned the light on.
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