In this Jan. 13, 2015, file photo, Ford F-150 pickup trucks are lined up at the Lee Sapp Ford dealership in Ashland, Neb.eet demand for the new F-150 pickup truck.

Chuck Sanders has bought two new cars in the last couple of years -- a Volkswagen Passat and Beetle.

But the Dunlap, Tenn., man wasn't dealing with February's snow and cold, which auto companies and Chattanooga area dealers said put a dent in last month's U.S. sales.

Still, industry sales were up 5.3 percent to 1.25 million, according to Autodata Corp. While that fell short of expected gains of 8 or 9 percent, experts said lost sales should be made up as the weather warms in March.

In Hamilton County, new vehicle registrations rose about 7 percent last month over a year ago.

Damon Skates, sales manager of Jackson Chevrolet Buick GMC in LaFayette, Ga., said last month's sales were solid except for the snowy period.

"Take that week out and it was a good month," he said.

David Hickman, Lexus of Chattanooga's sales manager, said February sales were soft.

"It was totally flat," he said, adding that both January and last December were up months. "I think March will be right back on track to where the market tends to be trending."

Volkswagen's sales fell 5.2 percent in February to 25,710, with the Chattanooga-made Passat falling 9.8 percent below the year-ago level. The remodeled VW Golf posted sharply higher sales, the German automaker reported.

Other carmakers came in below analysts' expectations. Chrysler, General Motors, Honda and Nissan all saw gains of 6 percent or less. Ford's U.S. sales dropped 1.9 percent.

Toyota and Subaru reported double-digit sales increases over last February, and Hyundai surprised with sales up 7 percent.

Toyota sales rose 13.3 percent, benefiting from updates to sedans such as the Corolla, Camry and Avalon, said Akshay Anand, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book, to The Associated Press. The only weak spot was the Prius hybrid, a victim of lower gas prices.

Consumers and businesses still shopped for trucks and SUVs despite higher gas prices. GM said sales of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup jumped 24 percent last month to 45,395.

Small SUVs continue to be one of the hottest segments in the market. Toyota sold nearly 22,000 RAV4 SUVs, up 33 percent from a year ago and a February record for the vehicle.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.