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For large parts of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the Millennium Falcon is in pretty poor condition. Han and Chewie are desperately trying to fix it on Hoth while the Empire is attacking the Rebel base, and throughout the rest of the film it struggles to go into Hyper Drive.

But what caused it to be this way? The ship seemed to be in fine condition at the end of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

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    This is just a guess, but quite some time elapsed between the end of A New Hope and the start of The Empire Strikes Back. I'd guess that there were other battles during that time, during which the Falcon could have been damaged. – HDE 226868 Nov 15 '15 at 21:38
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    I always thought it was sabotaged while parked at the Bespin cloud city. If memory serves, it was R2D2 who performed the required repair, having collected the required information from the city computer. The way I always understood it: problems prior to Bespin fixed by the time they were ready to leave there. Problem after Bespin due to sabotage for unclear reasons. – Anthony X Nov 15 '15 at 22:54
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    @AnthonyX: that was later on, after the original problem had been fixed. – Harry Johnston Nov 15 '15 at 23:57
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    @AnthonyX Lando had it repaired as promised, but Darth Vader ordered the hyperdrive sabotaged after the repairs had been completed. Later, R2-D2 tells C-3PO that the city computer informed R2 of the sabotage. R2 did indeed fix this while ignoring C3PO's strenuous objections. – user8693 Nov 16 '15 at 2:09
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    The Falcon is basically a space equivalent of a tuner hot-rod muscle car - overpowered for its size, heavily modified, and held together with a random assortment of whatever available spare parts were on hand to make it keep working. To me, it seems exactly like the type of vehicle that you would expect to be half-broken half the time. – J... Nov 16 '15 at 13:03
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In new canon. The first issue has the main characters attacking an imperial base and C-3PO is in the Falcon and then some scavengers attack it, they start taking it a part.

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars_1:_Skywalker_Strikes

My understanding is when Chewie starts to fix the Falcon he screws up the Hyperdrive as there's no reference to it being damaged before that. Chances are though that he only started making those repairs because of what happened during the events of the comic.

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    There is at least one scene in the movie where Chewie is engaging in "percussive maintenance", so one could easily see where that might happen. Perhaps in general Wookies aren't emotionally cut out to be top-notch mechanics. – T.E.D. Nov 16 '15 at 18:56
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    "What IS this in the motivator... haIR?! Chewy! Stop shedding!" – CGCampbell Nov 16 '15 at 19:56
  • Is this new comic book officially sanctioned Disney canon? – Dr R Dizzle Nov 18 '15 at 15:54
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    Yes, it's from the new line of canon star wars comics released by marvel this year in January, titled Star Wars – Peter Fox Nov 18 '15 at 15:56
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+500

There doesn't seem to be an answer in the movies themselves, since the Falcon is already undergoing repairs the very first time we see it in Episode V, and I can't find an answer anywhere else in canon.

In Legends, the damage appears to have been sustained during the second mission of Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron, in which Renegade Squadron (including the Falcon) go to the remnants of Alderaan to retrieve a holocron with information vital to locating a new rebel base.

After this mission, the squadron travelled to Ord Mantell to get the Falcon repaired, but they were interrupted by an assassin droid there, which is presumably part of the reason the Falcon still wasn't fully repaired by the time it reached Hoth. I mention this because early in Episode V, Han says "Well, the bounty hunter we met on Ord Mantell changed my mind." So this plotline has at least some loose connection to one of the original trilogy movies.

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    Was the line "Well, the bounty hunter we met on Ord Mantell changed my mind." really in a deleted scene? Just cause I don't remember ever not seeing it, but then so many different versions of Star Wars have been released on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray etc. over the years it's hard to remember which final cut is which ... :P – Au101 Nov 16 '15 at 2:00
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    @Au101 dailymotion.com/video/… – jpmc26 Nov 16 '15 at 7:52
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    @Au101 that line was in the original. It's just the deleted scene linked by jpmc26 also included the dialogue. Thankfully, they decided to keep the conversation between Han and Leia, but not that awful giant muppet attack. – moswald Nov 16 '15 at 14:34
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The hyperdrive problems were a direct result of damage inflicted from the fleet of Imperial Star Destroyers pursuing the Millennium Falcon (or possibly the stormtroopers on Hoth).

Remember Threepio states the following after Han Solo and Chewie attempt to make the jump to hyperspace:

            THREEPIO
    If I may say so, sir, I noticed 
    earlier that the hyperdrive 
    motivator has been damaged.  It's 
    impossible to go to light-speed!

where "damaged" implies the hyperdrive motivator had been knocked out by the turbolasers.

You might think a warning light would have alerted Solo or Chewie that the hyperdrive was no longer functional, but where's the drama in that? :) (Perhaps the warning light circuit got fried as well, who knows.)

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    "Perhaps the warning light circuit got fried as well", that's why a status light is on when all is fine and blinking, differently coloured or off when something is wrong :) – Kevin Nov 16 '15 at 12:51
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    "Yeah, the board was blinking so much that Chewie and I couldn't fly the thing for all the distractions. Eventually we had to just pull the fuses. Most of that stuff isn't important anyway." – Doug Warren Nov 16 '15 at 14:44
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    I think this is the best answer for the parts of "Empire" before Cloud City, after which Michael Hampton's comment to the question reagarding the hyperdrive being deliberately deactivated is the correct answer for after Cloud City. That's why in the end, R2 was able to make the hyperdrive work in seconds by reactivating it where it had presumably been deactivated, rather than having to repair it. – Todd Wilcox Nov 16 '15 at 14:56
  • @DougWarren - ...and every aviator in the audience shuddered... :-) – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Nov 16 '15 at 17:39
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The falcon was damaged on Ord Mantel. It's actually explained on the record.Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell cover

But now with the new Canon the events happened in the comics

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