My only advice: be careful. I've discovered here in France that the Dealers tend to replace whole systems whereas garages will replace just the faulty part in the system.
example: my Suspension (ASR) was leaking. Dealer wanted to replace whole system/block (metal pump chassis that was bolted to a valve chassis). At 3500 Euros, that seemed extravagant to me. An excellent, Mercedes accredited garage that I luckilly found unbolted the two assemblies, replaced the dried out washers that created the seal, and I got away with a 300Euro charge instead. Have been running on it for 5000km now.
No idea about the US market, sorry.
This wont guarantee good quality, but it could assure against picking a loser... Try the Better
Business Bureau website just to make sure that you choice isn't a bad one...
I use independents for simpler things such as oil changes, antenna mast replacement, bulbs I can't get to easily, etc., but have found that dealers have been forgiving and financially better able to handle my "out of warranty" claims for higher ticket items. I agree, though, they are usually into replacing the "system" rather than the "symptom". A good balance of both is my best advice.
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