Sales fell at General Motors (GM), Toyota, and Volkswagen in September, an odd month that appears likely to snap a 27-month streak of gains for the United States (US) auto industry.
GM posted an 11 per cent decline compared with a year ago, as the company even reported falling sales of its redesigned full-size pickup trucks.
Pickup truck sales have been a strong point for the industry as small businesses return to dealer showrooms. Volkswagen sales were off 12 per cent, while Toyota sales were down four per cent.
But Ford and Chrysler appeared to have outperformed the industry. Ford sales were up six per cent, while sales at Chrysler rose one per cent.
The Labor Day weekend is typically strong for US auto sales, and this year was no exception. But because the holiday came early, the auto industry counted all of that weekend's sales in its August tallies.
Analysts say all the factors that have been driving this year's strong car sales - including low interest rates, the improving economy and the need to replace ageing vehicles - remain in place. They see a strong close to the year.
"The market continues to move at a very healthy pace," said Erich Merkle, Ford's top US sales analyst.
At GM, sales of the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado pickup fell 11 per cent, while the GMC Sierra dropped nearly two per cent, reversing a recent trend and marking a contrast to GM's main rivals in the truck market.
Ford reported that sales of its top-selling F-Series pickups rose 10 per cent. Chrysler was buoyed by the Ram pickup with sales up eight per cent.
Jeep sales up
Chrysler also said sales of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV increased 19 per cent.
Ford was led by sales of its Fusion midsize sedan, which jumped 62 per cent over last September, while the subcompact Fiesta posted nearly a 29 per cent gain. But sales of the Escape SUV - one of Ford's best sellers - dropped two per cent to 22,607, and Explorer SUV sales were up just 1.5 per cent.
Volkswagen, which has struggled all year against strong 2012 numbers, had a poor month. Its top-seller, the Jetta small car, posted a nearly 10 per cent sales decline.
Nissan Motor Company also reported a sales drop, off nearly six per cent from a year earlier. The Nissan Division's sales were off six per cent, while the Infiniti luxury brand posted a four per cent decline.