How do recalls happen? They start with customer complaints to NHTSA -- the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The more complaints there are, the faster that they take action.
The NHTSA opens their investigation, and if they find reason to do so, they place pressure on car makers, which usually results in a voluntary recall. If the reason is serious enough, the NHTSA can also mandate a recall.
If you have a problem with your car, you can visit the NHTSA website by clicking here. There, you can check for recalls, check for 'Secret Recalls,' and make a formal complaint to the NHTSA.