Effects of processing parameters on preheated (heat-assisted) clinching process to join aluminum alloy 5052-H32 (AA5052) and thermoplastic carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic (TP-CFRP) sheets for cross-tension (CT) specimens were first studied. Preheating was critical since brittle TP-CFRP could be softened to avoid fracturing or cracking during clinching process. Four processing parameters, including punching force, die depth, heating mode, and heating temperature, were considered. Quasi-static tests and microscope observations were taken to evaluate AA5052/TP-CFRP clinch joints in CT specimens and determine appropriate processing parameters for fatigue tests. Finally, fatigue data and failure mode of clinch joints in CT specimens were obtained and discussed.