Fired by their New Zealand internationals, the Crusaders ran in five tries at their home AMI stadium to earn a bonus point and give themselves a chance of leapfrogging the Chiefs at the top of the New Zealand conference.
Both teams are playoffs-bound but the defending champion Chiefs suffered a big blow to their confidence ahead of the final round of regular season matches, turning in an insipid display bogged down by indiscipline and handling errors.
"It was nice. (We) set a nice standard at the start of the game," Crusaders captain Read said in a pitchside interview after scoring a try in both halves.
"We'll definitely take the win but we know we have to come back next week and start again."
Dominated at the breakdown, the Chiefs conceded four penalty goals in the opening quarter to trail 12-3 before winger Asaeli Tikoirotuma scored an opportunistic try from a cross-kick by scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow to reduce the deficit to four points.
That was to be the last highlight for the visitors until a consolation try for centre Charlie Ngatai in the 73rd minute.
Number eight Read, who led the All Blacks to a 3-0 series sweep of France last month in the absence of Richie McCaw, scored the Crusaders' first try on the stroke of halftime, darting for the line from the back of a ruck.
Carter's conversion put the Crusaders up 19-8 at the break and fullback Israel Dagg rode the momentum with a try in the 43rd minute, dancing through a slack defence and pirouetting over the line.
Carter slotted his second conversion, making him the first to notch 1,500 points in the competition, and finished with 18 points for the game, continuing his rich vein of form at the business end of the season.
A brilliant break by Dagg along the left wing put Read over the line a few minutes later and centre Ryan Crotty crossed at the opposite corner in the 57th minute to put the Chiefs all but out of the game.
Ngatai spun over at the left corner for the Chiefs' second try, but replacement back Tyler Bleyendaal completed a miserable night for the title-holders by intercepting a pass after the whistle and charging 60 metres for the final try.