Yes these terms are the same in relaying there is a problem indicated. Sometimes a malfunction indicator light can kick on when the gas cap is not tightened all the way, and kick back off after a few key cycles.
〉 Answered on Apr 29th, 2008 by Amanda J. Pierce, MBA "AJ", Certified Mechanic, Project Coordinator; Primavera Scheduler at VIGOR Alaska Industrial Shipyard & BizzM3ch Solutions
On most vehicles, the "service engine soon" light is the same as "check engine". If that light comes on and stays on, it*s best to bring your car in to be looked at as soon as possible. If that light comes on and is flashing, it*s best to turn the vehicle off and have it towed right away to your technician.
Look in your owner's manual for an explanation of this light.
〉 Answered on Apr 29th, 2008 by Suzanne Grego, Technician at City of Philadelphia Fleet Management