Nicklaus, whose 18 major championship titles are a record that has inspired Woods, said he believed the 33-year-old superstar would regain the admiration of the public, but acknowledged the furor was hard on Woods' family.
"Our public is pretty forgiving at times," said Nicklaus, 69. "Time usually heals all wounds.
"I think the hardest thing is obviously his family. That's a private matter for him and his family."
Woods, owner of 14 major titles, has been lying low since the November 27 crash near his home in the suburbs of Orlando, Florida, in which he hit a fire hydrant and then a neighbor's tree.
News of the crash was followed by revelations of a marital crisis over his alleged affairs with a string of women.
Woods stayed away from his own charity tournament, the Chevron World Challenge, in California last week, and has acknowledged "transgressions" on his website.
"He's a great athlete," Nicklaus said. "He'll figure it out."
Nicklaus's first public comments about Woods' predicament came after an event honoring The Benjamin School's golf team, recent winners of a Florida state championship.
Nicklaus's son, Gary, played on a championship-winning team at the school 26 years ago.