A lot of people do recommend the aluminum one but I like the factory one because it promotes a quieter engine without the whistle. And its not too hard to change if you had to on side of road with basic tools.
I'm in the SF East Bay as well, and haven't found a shop that is good with Sprinters. Thus far, I've done everything myself with help here on the forum. Many people have recommended the mobile mechanic, but I've never used him.
For half that amount quoted, I'm sure a few of the forum members would install it for you!
It shouldn't take you more than 2 hours start to finish to do it yourself.
If you're able to go about wrenching on it yourself/have the time and tools, I'd say save the money on the tuneup and do the oil change yourself (~$$80 in oil and filters) - Mobil One synthetic 5W-40 is sold in gallons at Walmart for like $26/gallon (it's the only reason I'll walk into that place).
You can easily look at fluids and see if any of them need to be topped off, except for the Tranny fluid, which you (stupidly) need to buy the dipstick for, and buy the little amount that you might need.
The codes will definitely need to be diagnosed before they'll pass the smog, and some places will read them for you for about $20-$30. Or find a local with a unit to do it for you.
The best option though, and why I say save the money is that for $200 more than your tuneup, you can get the Green Diesel Engineering tune, which MAY JUST save you from not being able to pass smog. Many Sprinters get failed for EGR issues that are $$$$$ to fix, and the GDE tune disables it, as well as gives you a code reader with the tune so that you can read and clear your own codes.
That, I'll submit, would be the best use of your $$$$...
Moving forward sounds like I ought to get the
- The mercedes dealer in SF to do a free multi point inspection where they check brakes, suspension, belts, hoses, etc.
- fix the resonator myself
- have precision people's car repair run diagnostics and clear the check engine light
- attempt to pass smog before getting a GDE tune
Having heard the aluminum replacement and the noise it allows through, I'd vote for the Dorman which is only about $35. They've been run on many 10,000lb T1N motorhomes with no failures. They're as quiet as the original resonator. About a half hour to replace.
...defintely do the work yourself if you can. you will save a ton of money. resonator is simple.
I am in oakland and, from what i have found, there are not really any reasonably priced places out here to have work done on sprinters...
i have a green diesel tune now and i highly, highly recommend it. i am just writing up a review after my first trip with it. i bought it when i started to have egr problems and after reading on here about folks chasing egr problems in circles...and you are able to pass smog in Cali with it! its a godsend. 10-1 that your code is an egr code or boost related code. green diesel's tune eliminated all my egr related problems and I am happily out of LHM, turbo-boosting all over california now. did i mention i highly recommend it? it comes with a code reader (which i have if you get stuck with your DTC codes).