It can be unsettling to have the check engine light come on while you are driving. It can be a sign of many different problems. When it does come on, you'll want to bring your car to a professional repair facility.
Most check engine lights will either blink or stay fully illuminated depending on the severity of the issue. If your check engine light is blinking, it usually means something is really urgent. You should pull over immediately and check for any noticeable damage or leaks. You'll probably want to call roadside assistance unless you understand engine mechanics and can identify/fix the problem yourself (enough to get safely back on the road). Otherwise, you risk harm to yourself and other drivers if your car has severe engine problems. You also risk more damage to the car/engine, which can mean even costlier repairs.
If the light comes on and stays constantly illuminated, the problem is less likely severe and you can continue driving to your destination as long as it's not too far away. However, you will want to get it checked out as soon as possible. Minor engine issues can quickly turn into major repairs, so you want to take action and bring your car into a shop immediately.
Even if you fix a problem yourself or there actually is no significant problem to be concerned with, most check engine lights have to be reset by a professional automotive technician or your dealership who can access the computer system and turn it off. Most modern systems will attach a code with any check engine light alert. Knowledgeable technicians can easily read the codes and go right to the source of any problems.
The moral of the story is that any time your check engine light comes on, you want to be extra cautious on the road and then bring your car into a professional repair facility as quickly as you can. Don't let a little problem turn into something big, and don't put your safety at risk. Let a professional read the code and handle the repairs.
If your check engine light comes on, contact San Francisco Automotive Solutions (formerly All American Automotive) immediately to schedule an appointment or arrange a tow to our shop in the heart of the SoMa District. Call us at (415) 523-0515.