How to Remove Brake Shoes From a Buick Century

by Jody L. Campbell

The Buick Century was reintroduced as a full-size model in the early 1970s by GM. In 1981 it was redesigned as a front-wheel drive model and downsized a little, featuring front disc brakes and rear drum brakes. Later versions were available with rear disc brakes as well. Rear drum brakes incorporate brake shoes that extend outward to contact the interior surface of the drums. Because rear drum brakes only provide about 25 percent of the braking power to the Century, the rear shoes can be replaced less frequently than the front pads.


Place a wheel block in front of the Buick Century on a flat, hard surface. Do not apply the emergency brake, or you will not be able to remove the rear drums


Lift the Century with a suitable vehicle jack and then support it on jack stands. Remove the rear wheel nuts and wheels.


Remove the rear drums. If necessary, remove the rear rubber plug located on the back plate by prying it out of position with a screwdriver. Insert the screwdriver to push the adjuster actuator out of position, and use a brake spoon adjuster tool to turn the brake shoes inward, away from the drum. If the drum is stuck to the hub, then spray penetrating lubricant around the hub and drum pilot hole. Strike the flat face of the drum with a hammer until it breaks free from the hub.


Use the brake shoe spanner pliers to remove the actuator spring from the adjuster lever.


Lift the end of the W-shaped retractor spring from the adjuster shoe assembly. Insert the hook end of the brake shoe spanner pliers between the retractor spring and the shoe. Pry slightly to remove the end of the spring from the retaining hole in the plate of the shoe.


Pry the other end of the retractor spring toward the axle, with the flat end of the brake shoe spanner pliers, until the spring snaps off the shoe plate.


Remove one brake shoe and the adjuster mechanism.


Disconnect the parking brake lever from the shoe it is attached to. Unless you're replacing the parking brake lever, however, do not remove the other end of it from the cable.


Use the brake shoe spanner pliers to lift the end of the retractor spring from the adjuster shoe assembly. Use the hook end of the pliers to wedge between the retractor spring and the shoe plate. Pry outward to remove the spring end from the hole in the shoe plate. Pry the end of the retractor spring toward the axle with the flat end of the pliers until the spring snaps down off the shoe plate.


Remove the remaining brake shoe in the same manner.


  • check If you're replacing the shoes, then it is recommended to remove both rear brake drums and then remove and replace one side of the shoes at a time. This way, you can use one assembled side as a reference for the replacement of the springs and retractors.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.

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