Leeds went into the game ahead of its opponent on goal difference at the top of the table, but was outclassed by Neil Warnock's side as it fell to its second defeat in three league games.
Kenneth Zohore set the Welsh side on its way before Junior Hoilett powered home a second in the 37th minute.
Liam Cooper then received his marching orders for the visitors on the stroke of half-time before Zohore tapped in for his second of the night.
Kemar Roofe pulled a consolation goal back for Leeds, but it was too little too late as Cardiff moved three points clear of Leeds and Wolves, which takes on Sheffield United on Wednesday.
At the other end of the table, Sunderland's miserable start to the season continued as it capitulated to a 5-2 defeat to Ipswich Town at Portman Road.
Former Black Cat Martyn Waghorn opened the scoring inside six minutes before Billy Jones equalised for the visitor.
Jordan Spence, Bersant Celina and David McGoldrick then took advantage of some kamikaze defending from Sunderland to put the game to bed.
Aiden McGeady pulled one back for Simon Grayson's side, but it was fitting that Ipswich had the final word, which duly came through Grant Ward in the 89th minute.
Meanwhile, Aston Villa's renaissance goes on as it crushed Burton Albion 4-0 at the Pirelli Stadium.
Keinan Davis, Albert Adomah and Robert Snodgrass were all on target early to put the game out of Burton's reach by half-time.
Substitute Josh Onomah then added a fourth in the second half as Villa extended their unbeaten run in the league to seven games.
Preston North End's impressive recent form shows no sign of slowing down as it edged past Hull City 2-1, and Fulham ran out 3-1 winners against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
A late goal from Callum Robinson gave Preston a precious three points over Hull at the KCOM Stadium, while second-half goals from Stefan Johansen and Neeskens Kebano helped Fulham inflict a fourth straight defeat in all competitions for Nottingham Forest.
Middlesbrough fell to a surprise home defeat to Norwich City, while Bristol City and Millwall enjoyed home victories over Bolton Wanderers and Reading respectively.
In the night's two other games, Barnsley and QPR and Brentford and Derby County played out 1-1 draws.